Drive through just about any small town in Texas on a Friday night and you’ll most likely find an empty town, closed signs hanging on shop doors and the streets deserted. That is, until you drive by the football stadium. There you will find more pick-up trucks than you can count, and just about the whole town at the stadium cheering on the local football team. From the road, you can hear the boisterous cheers from the stands, the cheerleaders performing acrobatic feats and harmonious tunes coming from the high school band. In this moment, the hometown spirit is palpable.
Friday nights in Odessa, Texas, are no different. However, the Friday Nights in Odessa have roots that run deep, so deep that they could probably touch the black oil that can be found beneath the surface of this West Texas town. These infamous Friday Nights Lights were born here in Odessa. When the days get shorter and the temperatures at night begin to drop, that’s when you can find folks at Ratliff Stadium.
People from all over the region flock to this stadium in droves to fill the mighty eighteen thousand seats. They cheer on their sons and daughters, and perhaps relive the good old days when they used to take their places on that very field on Friday nights. There’s something to say about the power, feeling and awe of MOJO Magic!
This annual pilgrimage to Ratliff Stadium is what spurred this cultural phenomenon that people call Friday Night Lights. It’s under these lights in Odessa, Texas where legends were and are still made and where the true Friday Night Lights first shined bright.
A book, a movie and eventually a TV show were created in response to this culture of Odessans who were and still are obsessed with football.
Arguably one of the best books written about sports, Friday Nights Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream by Buzz Bissinger follows the story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team as they made a run towards the state championship. The author chronicled the life of the team, the coaches, and the residents of Odessa during that season in order to fully understand the obsession. While they book shined a not so positive light on Odessa, from there on out, Odessa was and still is known as a destination for sporting event greatness.
This cultural phenomenon is still the talk of the town. Even in a town with nearly 100,000 people, off of Interstate 20, located in the oil-rich Permian Basin in West Texas, football is still king. The radios are abuzz with the local sportscasters listing off stats, citing past wins and losses, and discussing in depth how this game will factor into the cross-town rivalry between the Panthers of Permian High school and Odessa High School Bronchos.
While Odessa might be famously known for football, when it comes to any sport, Odessa really excels at them all. In addition to being the home of Ratliff Stadium, which is one of the premier high school facilities in the United States as well as one of the Top 10 high school sports facilities ranked by USA TODAY, Odessa is home to state-of-the- art courts, courses, fields and tracks. Odessa welcomes sports planners, teams and fans to check out Odessa and experience the difference and immerse themselvesf in a town that celebrates sports. So whether you are planning the next big Friday night football game, a playoff game, national meet, or tournament or just care to throw some discs, we invite you to visit Odessa for your next event where you can actually feel the energy.
We know that planning sporting events can be challenging but planning a sporting event in Odessa is a breeze, because Odessa knows sports. If you choose to host a game in Odessa, here’s what we can do to make your big game unforgettable: The Odessa Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) can assist you with booking sports facilities, assist with registration preparation and submissions and help coordinate media. We offer world-class sports facilities, top-quality hotels, delicious and affordable restaurants, and Odessa is home to friendly and enthusiastic fans. Find out more about Odessa’s facilities and recreational activities by visiting www.odessacvb.com or by calling (432) 333-7890. Let Odessa's CVB Sports Specialist, Melissa Aguirre, show you what Odessa can do to help you score big with your next event.
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