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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sports

UPDATE: Hofheinz family files petition for naming rights


Renovation for the Hofheinz Pavilion is set to occur in the coming years — but it might not get to keep that same name afterward. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

                                       This story has been updated to reflect the University’s position.

 The family of the late Roy Hofheinz has filed a petition with Harris County that would require UH to keep the Hofheinz name on the basketball facility.

“It’s our position that the University made an agreement in 1969,” said John Raley, the Hofheinz family attorney. “(UH) took substantial sums as part of that agreement. Now that they’ve spent the money, they’ve decided that they don’t want to keep the agreement anymore.”

In 1969, Hofheinz donated $1.5 million, which is equivalent to $8 million today, to the University in exchange for naming rights to the new basketball stadium. The University agreed, and the building has been called Hofheinz Pavilion since.

In November, the Board of Regents announced the approval of a $60-million renovation to the arena and that an anonymous donor gave $20 million for the project. The stadium has undergone restorations before but did not attempt to change the name.

“They’re not talking about tearing it down; they’re just talking about renovating it,” Raley said. “It’ll still be the same building.”

In the original contract, there is no mention of whether the University can change the name of Hofheinz Pavilion at a later date.

“Our position is that there is no time period on when (the Hofheinz Pavilion name) ends,” Raley said. “So as long as the building exists, it is to be named Hofheinz Pavilion.”

Hofheinz attended Rice and UH before obtaining his law degree from Houston Law School —now South Texas College of Law. After law school, he served as Harris County’s executive officer and eventually as Mayor of Houston. Hofheinz gained notoriety in 1960 when he became the first person to propose an indoor stadium.

“Roy Hofheinz was a great Houstonian,” Raley said. “He was county judge, he was mayor, he built the Astrodome, he brought pro sports to Houston, and he did many wonderful things for the University of Houston.”

In an official statement, the University said that it had fulfilled its terms of the agreement.

“The University is grateful for the Hofheinz family’s contributions on behalf of the University, however, in this matter disagrees with its position regarding the duration of the naming rights as well as many of the facts they have alleged,” said Mike Emery, a spokesperson for the University. “The University has been in discussions with the Hofheinz family and, though it disagrees with the family’s position, has sought an amicable resolution.”

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