A lot has changed since Houston hosted its first Super Bowl -- Super Bowl VIII -- in 1974. More than 71,000 fans gathered at Rice University Stadium to watch the Miami Dolphins play the Minnesota Vikings.

Houston Chronicle writer Dale Robertson covered it for the Houston Post. It was his first Super Bowl.

"I was not important enough to get a seat in the press box. I had to sit in the stadium," said Robertson, who is now the lead writer for the Chronicle's Texas Sports Nation magazine. "I thought it was pretty cool that I was covering a Super Bowl."

The weather wasn't perfect. It was cold and rainy. The game wasn't, either, The Dolphins crushed the Vikings, 24-7.

"It was a seriously crappy football game," Robertson said. "But still, it felt like you were part of something important."

The Vikings were assigned to HISD's Delmar Stadium as a practice facility and it was less than glamorous.

"When they arrived, there was no hot water and there were birds in the shower room," Robertson said. "That's how much the world has changed from Houston's first Super Bowl."

Tickets to the game cost as little as $15. There was no star-studded halftime show. The University of Texas marching band entertained fans.

"There were no rock stars, but everybody there thought it was something special," said Robertson, who is now the longest-tenured sports writer in Houston. "In those days, they were still figuring out how to turn it into something."

Super Bowl LI will be the 30th Super Bowl that Robertson has covered as a journalist, but Robertson will always remember his first one at Super Bowl VIII.