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Pavilion renaming shows money over meaning

The planned expansion and renovation of Hofheinz Pavillion will cost around $60 million. Courtesy of UH Athletics

The University of Houston filed a petition in April to the Harris County Probate Court to terminate the trust created by the late Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz to help build the eponymous arena in 1969.

The Hofheinz family has since filed a countersuit claiming that they donated the $1.5 million to help create the pavilion with the stipulation that it be named Hofheinz Pavilion.

With a plan for more than $60 million in renovations starting after the 2016-2017 basketball season, it’s easy to assume the Hofheinz family has no merit in their request to keep the name because of their small donation.

This could not be further from reality.

Roy Hofheinz dedicated his life to Houston. Not only did he help the University of Houston build the pavilion when it seemed they could not get the funding, he came up with the idea for the Astrodome.

The $1.5 million in question was not a random donation. Hofheinz rescued the pavilion and gave them what would equal to $8 million today so UH could finish it. The money covered about a third of the project’s total cost.

The former mayor, judge, philanthropist and professional sports team owner took pride in Houston and this school. Now with the passing of time and a $20-million anonymous donation to renovate the stadium, the school has decided to sell the naming rights to Hofheinz Pavilion.

John Raley, the Hofheinz family attorney, spoke on behalf of the family.

“It’s our position that the University made an agreement in 1969,” said Raley. “(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.”

After the donation was announced, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Hunter Yurachek spoke about a new renovation while ignoring the Hofheinz family’s contribution.

“We do have an anonymous gift of $20 million to begin the renovation of that project,” Yurachek said. “We’re not sure how that name is going to unfold, but it will no longer be called Hofheinz Pavilion, so we’re referring to this project as our Basketball Arena Renovation Project.”

How can this be so simple to UH? They accepted the $20 million, they’re attempting to give this anonymous party the naming rights and they still don’t know what to call it?

It seems like the University doesn’t care what its own pavilion will represent as long as they receive funding to renovate it. The University’s action is jeopardizing the building’s identity. A legacy of the figure who has done so much for Houston deserves better, no matter how big the donation is.

Opinion editor Frank Campos is a media production senior and may be reached at [email protected]


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