Thursday, August 25, 2016

UH Will Name Renovated Hofheinz Pavilion After Tillman Fertitta

Image result for UH press conference Fertitta Hofheinz
Hofheinz Pavilion has been the on campus home for the University of Houston Cougar basketball team since it opened in 1970.   While growing up here I got to attend several concerts held there like the Jackson 5 and Prince, along with a few Houston Rockets games after they moved here from San Diego in 1971.  It was the Rockets home arena for four seasons until The Summit was completed in 1975.

When Hofheinz Pavilion opened it had a seating bowl that could hold 10,000 fans, but after 1998 renovations that added luxury boxes to the top of the seating bowl along with an alcove honoring NBA Hall of Famer and Cougar alum Elvin Hayes, the seating capacity after the removal of seats to facilitate construction of the boxes was reduced to 8,479.

Image result for Judge Roy Hofheinz
The building was named for Irene 'Dene' and Judge Roy Hofheinz (yep, the same Judge Hofheinz that got the Astrodome built) and a prominent politician and philanthropist in Houston, after they donated $1.5 million to help complete construction of it

Image result for hofheinz pavilion uh
With an eye on positioning UH to be included into a Power Five conference in the next round of Power Five conference expansion or their ultimate goal (along with Cougar alums) of joining the Big XII, money has been invested in upgrading the athletic facilities in recent years.

The opening of TDECU Stadium in 2014 was part of that, and the football stadium is designed so that an upper deck can be added to increase its capacity when necessary.  

<div class='meta'><div class='origin-logo' data-origin='KTRK'></div><span class='caption-text' data-credit='University of Houston'>The University of Houston releases artist renderings of what the former Hofheinz Pavilion will look like.</span></div>
With that football stadium issue being resolved along with the opening of the METRORail Purple Line that passes the stadium and the western and southern half of the campus, in 2010 a $60 million renovation to the aging Hofheinz Pavilion was announced complete with a naming rights deal to a then anonymous donor.

The sticking point became the naming rights of the arena that the Hofheinz family contended belonged to them in perpetuity because of the original 1969 donation with the stipulation the area be named for Hofheinz.  The Hofheinz family was also not happy they found out about it in a news report, and both sides filed lawsuits to resolve the issue.

Image result for UH Hofheinz Pavilion plazaA press conference was held this morning announcing a settlement to the naming rights kerfuffle, in which a plaza bearing the name and a bronze statue of Judge Hofheinz  in front of the renovated area that will be named starting in the 2018-19 season the Fertitta Center, after Houston entrepreneur and Landry's, Inc owner Tillman Fertitta.

Fertitta donated $20 million to the project. that is scheduled to be completed by the 2018-2019 season and sits on the UH Board of Regents as its chairman.

In addition, UH will petition the city of Houston to name the portion of Holman Street that runs in front of the renovated arena between Cullen Blvd and Scott St for Judge Hofheinz and make his papers available in the school's library and in the UH alumni center adjacent to the renovated arena.

"We know our father would want the athletic department at UH to prosper", said Fred Hofheinz, who served as Houston's mayor from 1974-1978.  "So we know he would support this move."

As for UH being announced as the newest member of the Big XII conference, that's still to be determined..

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