Cougars to open Fertitta Center against Oregon
The Cougars men’s basketball team will play their first game in the Fertitta Center on Dec. 1 against the 2017 PAC-12 regular season champions, the Oregon Ducks.
The game will be the first leg of a home-and-home series, and the Cougars will travel north next season to face the Ducks again.
The first women’s game will be on Dec. 5 against Texas A&M, said Chris Pezman, Vice President for Athletics.
Pezman said the arena will open a month ahead of schedule due to the efforts of the construction teams.
Senior Associate AD for Capital Projects, T.J. Meagher, led the media on a tour of the new facility and said bringing the building up to modern code was a huge undertaking.
The facility had to triple the number of women’s bathrooms and double the number of men’s bathrooms, just to name one of the notable upgrades to the facility, said Meagher.
The new facility will feature new locker rooms, club seating areas, media rooms and a tunnel that will light up red as the players march through to the court.
Head coach Kelvin Sampson thanked Tilman Fertitta for being a huge supporter of the new stadium and making ideas of renovation into actions.
Last season, the Cougars played at Texas Southern’s arena a mile away from campus. For some games in the season, Cougar fans were equaled in number by fans of the opposing teams.
But as the season went on, the UH faithful came out to support, something Sampson credits to winning.
“As the season progressed, we created our home court advantage and people came to see us. It just shows you, if you win they’ll come. They’re not going to come unless you win,” Sampson said.
This season, with marquee opponents like LSU, Rice, Wichita State and Cincinnati coming to town, Sampson wants the new arena to be a Cougar stronghold.
“I’ll know that our program has arrived to see us play and not the people we’re playing against,” said Sampson. “We’re going to get this thing going where we open those doors and people fill this beautiful, beautiful arena; they’re coming to watch the Cougars.”
400 student seats at the Fertitta Center will be on the sidelines with another section on the end for overflow. pic.twitter.com/abeauUgyXk
— Andres Chio (@ChioAndres) June 25, 2018
The student sections will be composed of 400 front-row bleacher seats and a full section on one of the ends in the 7,100 capacity arena.
“The most important entity that fills up a basketball arena or football stadium is the students. We can count on them, and we got to get our students in the habit of coming here to watch our basketball team,” Sampson said. He also thanked fans for making the trek to TSU to watch last season.
Construction crews will start putting down the new seats in July, and the stadium should be finished in November, said Meagher.
The University also released a 3D map of the new arena that lets potential ticket buyers get an idea of the view their seat would have.
The full basketball schedule will be released in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more details.