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|| News Item: Posted 2011-03-14

Houston and the Final Four

By George Bridges, McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service

Photographers who have their local team qualify for the Final Four will arrive at Houston’s Reliant Stadium to find the same stadium layout of the past few years – a raised court in the center of the football field with 70,000+ seats.

Photo by

Houston’s Reliant Stadium
The Stadium
As always, all court and elevated positions will be assigned by the NCAA and second-row photographers will need a small stool to sit on (9-inches high is the maximum requirement). The elevated position throw should be in the 500mm-600mm range.

Photographers will be required to order a hard-line connection in the workroom and pricing is set at $450.

There is no direct over-the-basket view from the catwalks, but side angles of the baskets are available, though very tight shooting through the lights. The stadium is talking of having preset times for catwalk access during the week so photographers and arena personnel are on the same page for installing remotes. While on the catwalks, the arena requires equipment be secured at all times. This means everything must be in a bag with a strap or in your pockets. No loose gear or items hanging from your belt. It is expected there will be no access to gear on the catwalks during the games so anyone wanting pictures immediately will have to tether into the stadium VLAN system for a much higher cost or wait until after games and access is granted to grab cards.

Nikon and Canon will be on-site to offer support and clean & check of gear, plus they will have some loaner equipment.

Around Town
Reliant Stadium is to the southwest of downtown Houston making flights into Hobby Airport closer to the arena than Bush Intercontinental.

The media hotel will be the Crowne Plaza that is located within site of the stadium and is about a half-mile from Reliant. It is a walk-able trek directly up Kirby Drive if you want (in Houston anything farther than 300 yards is generally considered driving distance for locals).

Media entry is expected to be off Kirby Drive, the same side of Reliant as the hotel. Once in the arena, though, you will have to walk to the other side to reach the photographers’ workroom. Parking should be the Teal Lot, which is across Kirby from the press entrance.

The workroom is located at the top of one of the field access tunnels. Anyone who attended the regional last year at Reliant will find it in the same location that was our dining hall then. The dining area is being moved to the main media area across the hall.

Because of the proximity to the stadium and the 610 Loop around Houston, there are plenty of options of eating and entertaining close to Reliant and the hotel.

Across 610 from the hotel is a range of restaurants including local chain Pappadeaux (Cajun) and Pappasitas (Tex-Mex). Also nearby on Main Street is Shipley’s donuts for a quick and unhealthy breakfast. If you need to know, the closest Starbucks is at Main and Buffalo Speedway, just west of the Reliant.

To get a local restaurant flavor, head north on Kirby to Westheimer where you can find Chuys for Tex-Mex and a lively atmosphere, or Churrascos for a more South-American flair. Hugo’s offers a more refined sampling of Mexican cuisine, but can also hit the expense account a bit harder.

For several dining options and shopping Rice Village, which is also north of Reliant on Kirby at University, offers many choices.

Barbecue lovers can hit local eatery Goode Company on Kirby Drive to the north of the arena as well which features a giant metal armadillo next door, the perfect place for that “I’m really in Texas” photo.

The barbecue enthusiast can check out for reviews of lots of places in Houston and the surrounding area.

George Bridges is Senior Photo Editor McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service and resides in the Houston area.

Contents copyright 2018, Do not republish without permission.
Getting paid to eat pizza, smoke cigars and drink beer? One lucky photog ::..