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Sunday, April 21, 2024 — Houston, TX

UFL’s Roughnecks set to call Rice Stadium home

By Andersen Pickard     2/13/24 10:52pm

Owls fans at Rice Stadium watched the Rice University football team clinch a bowl berth this past season, and now they’ll have another home team.

The Houston Roughnecks, one of eight teams in the United Football League’s inaugural season, will play five home games at Rice Stadium in 2024, according to an announcement from Rice Athletics. The Roughnecks are the only team in the UFL scheduled to play home games at a university-associated stadium.

Rice Stadium has previously hosted Rice, University of Houston and Texas Southern University football games, but its history goes beyond the NCAA. The venue hosted John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the moon” speech in 1962, 21 Houston Oilers games from 1965 to 1967 and Super Bowl VIII in 1974.

“Rice Stadium has been the scene for countless thrilling moments in the rich football history of the city of Houston, and we look forward to adding to this legacy by hosting the Roughnecks during the historic debut season of the UFL,” Rice vice president and director of athletics Tommy McClelland said in the announcement.

The UFL is the product of a merger between the XFL and the United States Football League. The two leagues joined forces in December after competing for players, sponsorship, television rights and regional markets for several years. The league touts itself as the “premier spring football platform,” keeping football fans engaged in the sport well after the NFL playoffs conclude in February.

The Roughnecks are led by Reid Sinnett, a former NFL quarterback who is the early favorite to earn the starting job when the regular season begins at home on Sunday, March 31. Other notable players include former LSU defensive tackle and national champion Glen Logan, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Cyril Grayson and former Canadian Football League East All-Star wide receiver Steven Dunbar Jr.

With an experienced roster, the Roughnecks believe they can build something special for the city of Houston and its football fans. Although this is their first season in the UFL, the franchise did exist for two seasons in the XFL, making the playoffs in 2023 before losing to the Arlington Renegades in the South Division Championship. 

“We’re going to build an exciting atmosphere at Rice Stadium, one that is worthy of Roughneck nation and its most passionate fans,” head coach CJ Johnson said in the Rice Athletics announcement. “I hope all Houstonians will join us for an incredible season of spring football at Rice.”

After their season opener, the Roughnecks don’t return to Houston until April 21, when they begin a two-game homestand. They finish the regular season on the road in early June. General tickets are already on sale, and the team plans to announce a special offer for Rice students within the next few weeks. 

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