Activities & Organizations News

Band facility opening at TDECU Stadium delayed


Members of the Spirit of Houston prepare for a football game at the Moore’s School of Music.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

The Winston family, along with the Sterling Foundation, contributed $8 million to the TDECU Stadium construction fund, and in return the new band facility at the stadium was named the Bert F. Winston Band and Performance Center.

Philip Winston, Bert Jr.’s son, led the campaign to name the new band facility after his father.

“I met Bert F. Winston, Jr. and his son when I first got to UH,” said Bands, Cheer and Dance Director David Bertman. “They immediately reached out to me and got involved with the band and began fostering a comfortable friendship between the band and Athletics.”

Over the years, Winston, Jr. funded travel costs for the Spirit of Houston to attend away games and bowl games. He and his family also contributed to scholarship funds for Spirit of Houston members.

The new facility was meant to open in time for the current football season, though the exact date of its expected completion is unclear. The band staff estimated that the Spirit of Houston will begin moving into the Bert F. Winston Band and Performance Center in about three weeks — which seems a long time to spend in a less ideal facility while a new one stands just a few blocks away.

“In any major building project like this, there are challenges,” Bertman said. “Some challenges are man-made, and some are not. We’re dealing with those challenges.”

The Winston Center includes a student study lounge, a conference room, one rehearsal hall and two smaller rehearsal rooms.

“The size of the large room has a lot to do with our efforts to add space between the players,” Bertman said. “That’s all about hearing protection. You want to have about four feet between an instrument and your ear to keep your hearing safe, and we simply haven’t had that in the old facility.”

The facility isn’t just for the marching band. The cheer program and the Cougar Dolls will be using the Winston Center as well.

“It’s big enough that cheer can put down mats in there, (and) the color guard can use their flags,” Bertman said. “We made the ceilings high enough to accommodate every part of the Spirit of Houston for indoor rehearsals.”

The Moore’s School of Music is being used to prepare for football games until the Winston Center opens at TDECU Stadium.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Amenities in the large rehearsal hall include a built-in projector and an audio system with recording and instant playback, as well as separate storage spaces for uniforms and instruments.

For years, band equipment has been stored in precious rehearsal space shared by the marching band, concert bands, orchestra and more. The new rehearsal spaces at the Winston Center also include large windows with soundproof glass — an enormous change from the interior rehearsal halls of Moores, which lack natural light.

In addition, the Spirit of Houston members can access TDECU Stadium via a ramp that connects the Winston Center directly to the concourse level of the stadium and is guarded by two sets of security doors.

The Winston Center is a chance for those who don’t make it to the Moores side of campus to experience the Spirit of Houston and other non-music major ensembles.

“Since the Spirit of Houston is about fifty-fifty with non-major performers and major performers (those majoring in music, dance, etc.) it makes perfect sense for this facility to be in the middle of campus,” Bertman said. “It’s going to be so great to have a centrally located facility to represent the Spirit of Houston and the Moores School of Music.”

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1 Comment

  • I’m very glad that all of the students who participate in the band, cheerleaders, and Cougar Dolls have a new facility to meet their needs. They work so hard, practicing until 9 or 10 at night and being up on Saturdays before dawn to get ready for a game. Thanks to the Winston family for making sure they have the space they need to be successful.

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