Best of Houston

Best of Houston® 2020: Best Live Venue (Large)

Willie Nelson wowed at Smart Financial Centre in November.
Willie Nelson wowed at Smart Financial Centre in November. Photo by Christi Vest
Best Live Venue (Large): Smart Financial Centre

More than a million people can’t be wrong: Smart Financial Centre is a fantastic place to take in a live concert performance. The three-year-old auditorium sold its millionth ticket in 2019 which put the 6,400-seat hall in rare air. It was among planet Earth’s top ticket-selling venues under 10,000 seats in 2019 and is at or near the top in Texas for venues of any size. What’s to account for the wild success? Keen, diverse bookings have been key. In 2019, the slate included diva Mariah Carey, classical singer Sarah Brightman, Latin pop duo Sin Bandera, Texas music treasure Willie Nelson and other artists of every ilk. A peek ahead reveals acts specializing in Banda, Irish music, comedy, and dancing. When there's something for everyone, everyone has a chance to partake.

But it's more than smart bookings that have concert-goers coming. There’s not a bad seat in the sleek space, which feels intimate even when big names are onstage. At the concession stand, the selections are reliable and sometimes include fare tailored to the event. When Lionel Richie came to croon last year, fans could enjoy a "Say You Say Me Beef and Bacon Dog" with the show. It's a small thing, but the kind of fun flair that adds to the excitement of the concert experience. Everything's brought to life by the people who staff Smart, from the front office to the box office and all points between, who exude professionalism.

18111 Lexington, Sugar Land

Readers' Choice: The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
2005 Lake Robbins, The Woodlands
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