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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Administration

Rhoades takes first step in stadium project


Athletic Director Mack Rhoades hired a Fortune 500 company to assess plans to renovate Robertson Stadium and Hofheinz Pavilion. | Justin Flores/The Daily Cougar

Athletic Director Mack Rhoades announced Feb. 10 that the University hired AECOM, a Fortune 500 company, to study the possibilities of renovating Robertson Stadium and Hofheinz Pavillion, or building new facilities.

Representatives from the design firm are now on campus looking for solutions, which should be found within the next few months.

“Hopefully within 90 to 120 days we can get some clear sense of direction in terms of sensibility of both,” Rhoades said. “What makes the most sense, not only from a structural standpoint and a design standpoint, but also an economic standpoint.”

Rhoades said depending on AECOM reports, the University will be able to decide the best option for the school.

“That will provide clarity into each of those options, and we will be able to choose which option is more feasible and makes the most sense, in not only the short term but the long term as well,” Rhoades said.

 As Athletic Director of the University of Akron, Rhoades helped the school build a 30,000-seat football stadium, which opened in September 2009.

From his experience, he said, he is confident in his choice of AECOM to spearhead the project.

“They have tremendous experience in terms of mass planning for athletic facilities, and we just felt, in terms of art and uniqueness, they were a great fit,” he said. “They also have a strong local presence in the city of Houston; we felt that was important.”

Rhoades said the studies are preliminary measures for a massive project, and depending on those, he will know approximately how much each option will cost.

“They will give us some conceptual costs and estimates, which are certainly, from my past experience, very accurate,” he said. “It takes into account the current economic climate, and they also predict for future economic climate (because we won’t begin building immediately).”

The UH System Board of Regents must approve funding for the project before construction can begin. This is only one of the many difficult steps Rhoades will be faced with during the process.

“Certainly we have to have a clear sight of direction based upon some very good, factual information,” Rhoades said. “But then we have to create a sound financial plan in terms of funding in order to build any of these projects. 

“We will have to go out and raise a substantial amount of money.”

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