The University of Houston filed a motion today challenging efforts by the Hofheinz family heirs to prevent UH from receiving funds to renovate its 50-year-old basketball arena. The motion says the heirs have no legal standing to oppose UH’s plans to rename the facility.
“It is unfortunate that the heirs of the Hofheinz family have filed a lawsuit which attempts to prevent the University from receiving funds to bring the basketball arena into the 21st century,” said Hunter Yurachek, vice president for intercollegiate athletics at UH.
In 1969, the basketball facility was constructed with the assistance of $1.5 million donated by the Roy M. Hofheinz Foundation. Unfortunately, buildings don’t last forever and our arena is obsolete and no longer competitive with other first-class facilities at major universities across the country. It is no longer a recruiting tool or representative of a nationally relevant athletic program. Our arena needs a massive overhaul and our students deserve better. The reconstruction of the facility will cost at least $60 million. We need to offer the naming rights to attract a significant donation to pay for the reconstruction. Without that donation, the reconstruction cannot happen.
It is very common for outdated sports facilities to be renamed in conjunction with current donations. Two of the most notable in Texas are TCU basketball arena, which was renamed after a significant renovation with a new lead gift, and SMU, which kept the name of the original donor family as that family provided a new $20 million naming gift. Even TDECU Stadium, formerly Robertson Stadium, underwent a name change as part of its reconstruction. The field kept its name, O’Quinn Field, based on a new gift from the O’Quinn Foundation.
The donation from the Hofheinz Foundation was very clear that the $1.5 million was to be used to construct UH facilities, including the basketball arena, which was completed nearly 50 years ago. The University never agreed nor did Mr. Hofheinz intend that his gift from 50 years ago would entitle him to perpetual naming rights of the basketball arena. It is important to note that Mr. Hofheinz made it clear at the time of the grant that changed conditions may occur and the University Trustees may designate another use of the grant. This document clearly shows that his intent and generosity was to ensure that his gift would never be a burden on the University or a roadblock to its continued success and the success of its students.
Although the University is prohibited from disclosing the nature of its extensive negotiations with the Hofheinz family and their attorney, “the University can unequivocally say that it is committed to honoring the Hofheinz legacy,” said Yurachek.
Our students remain the focus of our efforts and although we are involved in court proceedings, we will continue to do all we can to make this reconstruction possible.