As Houston prepares to host Super Bowl LI in February, the Houston Texans have instituted a comprehensive set of upgrades to the fan experience at NRG Stadium. Of course, that means new food options.
Leading these upgrades will be the addition of Killen’s Barbecue at two stands in Sections 109 and 129. Unlike the brief period of time in 2014 when Killen’s served briskets at Minute Maid Park, the Texans are doing it right. The same J&R Manufacturing smokers that power chef-owner Ronnie Killen’s award-winning Pearland barbecue joint have been installed at the stadium.
“During the offseason, Ronnie went out, and we built two custom smokers to his specifications,” Aramark general manager for NRG Park Joel Nash said at a media event at NRG on Tuesday. “They were literally craned into the building during the offseason and are now sitting behind his concession stands on the main concourse. Ronnie will have the capacity to smoke over 200 briskets on the property.”
Longtime Killen’s sous chef Teddy Lopez will oversee the operation, and Killen, a Texans season ticket holder, will be able to assist as necessary. The stands will serve both brisket and turkey sandwiches. Two other stands will serve the “Killen’s Famous Brisket Stak,” which consists of waffle fries topped with brisket, creamy pepper jack cheese sauce, sour cream, and green onions.
Adding Killen’s is part of a comprehensive series of NRG upgrades. Underbelly chef-owner Chris Shepherd has added to his presence on the suite and club levels with a new Korean Sloppy Joe. To keep things fresh for season ticket holders, the James Beard Award winner will roll out a new item for every regular season home game.
In addition, Berryhill Baja Grill consulting chef Alvin Schultz showed off two of his creations that will be available to football fans: a Korean fried chicken taco and a cheesy shrimp and grits taco. Fort Worth “Cowboy Chef” Grady Spears now has added concession stands in the Upper Concourse that will serve carved meat sandwiches.
Even the hot dogs will be better, thanks to a new partnership with Holmes Smokehouse. The Texas-owned grocery store favorite will serve varieties which include regular, jalapeno cheese, and a half-pound foot-long made with brisket.
Fans will be able to post pictures of all the new dishes thanks to a ramped up WiFi system that will allow for up to 50,000 connections. No worries about power drain as the stadium is adding a dozen Redbox-style, Reliant-branded charging stations that will allow fans to rent portable chargers.
“We go to a lot of stadiums throughout the country to see what’s new and what’s latest . . . we put all those things into this experience,” Texans president Jamey Rootes said. Later, he added “these enhancements are a reflection of the passion and commitment we have to provide the finest fan experience for our great Texans fans and the best game experience in the National Football League.”