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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Stadium seating set to increase

The UH System Board of Regents approved $38.7 million at its Aug. 19 meeting for renovations to the north end zone of Robertson Stadium – a project regent Dennis Golden hopes will encourage the growth of Cougar football.

"I support this proposal, but I want to make sure that if we put that money into this end zone facility that five years from now when we have 80,000 people lined up to get tickets, we have a place for them to sit," Golden said.

With more than 131,000 square feet of renovated space, the end zone’s three levels will offer a 5,000-patron seating capacity.

Athletics Director Dave Maggard said the new end zone would bring about much-needed change to the stadium with a design that could be enhanced to make room for their anticipated influx in fan attendance in future years.

"The architect has viewed this and has certainly assured us that the stadium can be expanded – in other words, it can go right around in both ways," Maggard said.

Priced at roughly $31.5 million, the construction will bring a club level to house four suites, which will each accommodate 20 fans, in addition to an estimated 800 chair-back seats. Another suite level will offer 18 suites, which will be leased for three-year periods, to seat more than 250 patrons.

"I see this as only the beginning with what we should be doing with facilities like this. Without belaboring this, every university within our conference is expanding and doing these (renovations). For us to stay up we really need to move and we can expand this for sure," Maggard said.

Board of Regents Chairman Welcome Wilson proposed that some of the money be used toward stadium aesthetics.

"There’s a lot of relatively simple things, paint for example, that could be done underneath the stadium," Wilson said. "Can any of the money be used to spiff up the whole place?"

While noting $20,000 in expenses incurred this summer from the stadium fence paint job, Maggard said the funds would have to be used conservatively toward end zone renovation costs.

Out of the $38.7 million renovation budget, $2.2 million will be used for furniture and equipment, including fixtures, $2.2 million will account for professional service fees and nearly $1.4 million will be reserved for administrative and testing purposes. The renovated end zone will also house locker room areas, a player lounge, media interview rooms, additional concession stands, academic office space and the UH Hall of Honor, which will be relocated from the Athletics/Alumni Center.

Plans for the 8,000 square feet of soon-to-be vacated space in the Athletics/Alumni Center have not been decided.

The Board also approved the north end zone’s name change to the Wilhelmina Robertson Smith Stadium Complex. Smith has served as a member of the Board of Regents and benefactor to the University.

Athletics has received more than $10 million from Smith for the construction and has projected that more than one-third of the construction costs will be funded from her and her family’s private support.

"This is certainly in recognition of the support that they’ve given to this project, but also in recognition of what they’ve given to the University and their long-time involvement as leaders in he community and its benefactors to the University of Houston," UH Chief Financial Officer Carl Carlucci said.

Athletics will be responsible for raising $15.2 million for the cost of the stadium construction, of which $12 million has been secured. For other uses in the renovation estimated $5 million will be drawn from Higher Education Assistance Funds provided by the state, which will be used for academic purposes, and $18.5 million will come from auxiliary funds, generated from bonds and ticket revenue.

Construction for the end zone will begin April 2009 with and estimated completion of September 2010.

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