Development Facility next step toward prominence
In late September of 2014, construction began on the Houston Basketball Development Facility, the next step in Houston’s plan to compete on a national scale.
The process began with the construction of TDECU Stadium, which was finished last summer in time for the Cougars 2014-2015 season.
The development facility is phase two in a plan for Houston to re-energize their athletic programs and return their amenities to a world-class level.
“President (Renu) Khator…(Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics) Hunter Yuracheck, Tilman Fertitta, everybody on the Board of Regents, I thank them for their commitment to this program,” said head men’s basketball coach Kelvin Sampson. “Basketball coaches…win games, but if you want to win championships, you have to have the commitment of the administration.”
When asked to talk about the development facility, Sampson had just two words to describe it: game changer.
Women’s head basketball coach Ronald Hughey echoed Sampson’s sentiments.
“It puts us in the playing field with everybody else when having one of the top facilities in the nation, not along Texas, but in the nation,” Hughey said. “It opens up the door for us to build a Top-25 program.”
This is arguably the biggest construction project undertaken by the University for basketball since 1969, when Hofheinz Pavilion opened.
Sampson is already seeing the expansions pay dividends with the recruits who come to campus.
“When we ask these kids ‘what it is you like best?’, they say the facilities.” Sampson said. “Really? When’s the last time we heard that? Maybe it was when Elvin (Hayes) and the early-’70s guys (were here).”
Sampson also talked about how the building of the development facility will help overcome some of the struggles in even the most basic aspects for a basketball team.
“We have one court over here in the Athletics/Alumni Center. We have two teams…we’re a major college program, but we share facilities,” Sampson said. “This was my first time going around this conference, so I didn’t know what they had, but we’re way behind these schools, facility wise.”
To Sampson, this is a necessary move forward for a program looking to take the next step.
“We want to win championships, we’re a school that can,” Sampson said, “We don’t have to take a back seat to other people, I want people to have a little swagger to them—to believe in this place—but we can’t do it with what we have.”
The development center is that next step forward in a return to prominence for UH, a three-story facility featuring dedicated spaces for each team with areas for players to work on their game, study or relax, and with offices for both coaching staffs and support staffs.
Highlights of the facilities include two practice courts, equipped with large-scale monitors for coaches to draw over the recorded feeds of the practice, a trainer’s area complete with hot and cold tubs for faster recovery and development rooms with equipment meant to maximize efficiency based on player metrics.
Even the smallest details were considered in the construction of the facility, said TJ Meagher, the associate athletics director for Capital & Special Projects.
“We’ve raised the height on the tabletops in the last two rows,” Meagher said. “As you can imagine, we’d like to have 6’10”, 6’11”, 7’ players, well we need to design a facility for that.”
The project is set to finish on-budget for $25 million, with an estimated mass completion date of Nov. 11.
With the completion of phase two, the University will turn its attention to the third phase of their project, the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion.
With the recent commitment to return Houston to a national leader in athletics, the University is showing that it is striving to thrive as not only a research university, but to become a premier institution in all areas.
“Without a doubt, it gives us a chance to show people every day that we are on the rise…like football with their moto, we’re taking it over and we’re chasing greatness in everything we do,” Hughey said. “That’s just who we are, because when we’re chasing greatness, it’s that vision that we have to be the best of the best.”