The exterior of the Fertitta Center on Cullen Boulevard
|Former names||Hofheinz Pavilion (1969–2017)|
|Location||3875 Holman Street|
Houston, Texas 77004
|Owner||University of Houston System|
|Operator||University of Houston|
8,918 (Post-1998 capacity)
|Opened||December 1, 1969|
|Renovated||1991, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2017|
|Construction cost||$4.2 million|
($29.3 million in 2019 dollars)
$60 million (2017 renovation)
|Architect||Lloyd, Morgan & Jones|
|Structural engineer||Walter P Moore|
|General contractor||H. A. Lott, Inc.|
|Houston Cougars (NCAA) (1969–present)|
Houston Rockets (NBA) (1971–1975)
The Fertitta Center, formerly known as Hofheinz Pavilion, is a 7,100-seat multi-purpose arena on the University of Houston campus in Houston. Located at 3875 Holman Street, it is home to the Houston Cougars men's and women's basketball teams and the women's volleyball team. Previously, the arena was opened in 1967 as Hofheinz Pavilion, named after Roy Hofheinz and his late wife, Irene Cafcalas "Dene" Hofheinz, after they donated $1.5 million to help fund construction. Roy Hofheinz, known as Judge Hofheinz, was a UH alumnus and a Houston politician, businessman, and philanthropist. The arena is now named after restaurant magnate and UH alum Tilman Fertitta, who donated $20 million toward the complete renovation of the arena in 2016. The court is named for hall of fame and former Cougars coach Guy V. Lewis. The arena also contains an alcove dedicated to Basketball Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes, a Cougar player in the 1960s and NBA star in the 1970s. Like many arenas of its kind, the seating bowl of Fertitta Center is dug into the ground so that one enters the building at the top of the bowl.
In June 2010, the University of Houston announced a $40 million plan to renovate Hofheinz Pavilion. Ultimately in November 2015, the Board of Regents approved a $60 million complete re-design of the facility to open in 2018, funded in part by a $20 million gift from UH alum Tilman Fertitta. After the Hofheinz family objected to the building's being renamed, the school and the family reached a settlement to honor Judge Hofheinz by building a plaza containing a bronze statue of him near the facility. In addition, the UH library will archive Hofheinz's historical records in a special section. Finally, UH will petition the city of Houston to change the name of Holman Street between Cullen Boulevard and Scott Street to honor the Hofheinz family. The renovation began in March 2017 at the conclusion of the 2016–17 basketball seasons, and was scheduled to be completed in time for the 2018–19 men's and women's basketball seasons, but construction delays pushed the reopening date to December 1, 2018. Both basketball teams played their home games on the campus of nearby Texas Southern University during the course of construction.
The Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) used the arena as their first home in Houston, from 1971 to 1975. In addition to athletics, the arena has been used for other purposes such as UH graduation ceremonies and area high school commencements. It has also hosted many concerts by famous artists. The Summit took over for much of these purposes in the city after its construction in 1975.
Hofheinz Pavilion (1969–2017)
Prior to 1969, the basketball team of the University of Houston hosted their home games at high school arenas such as Jeppesen Gym and Delmar Field House. Hofheinz Pavilion was meant to replace these venues as a permanent location.
When the team relocated from San Diego in 1971, the NBA's Houston Rockets used the venue as their home arena, although selected games were played at the Astrodome. The Rockets played at Hofheinz Pavilion during their first four seasons in Houston until the construction of The Summit was completed in 1975.
A new ceiling, lighting and sound system were installed in 1991. Through a donation by alumni John and Rebecca Moores in 1992, the basketball locker rooms were enlarged and equipped with personal lockers for each player. Also added was a meeting area and lounge furnished with couches, a color television, a stereo sound system and a pull-down projection screen.
In 1998, Hofheinz Pavilion again underwent a renovation as part of a capital improvement campaign undertaken by the university to upgrade its athletic facilities. In its original format Hofheinz Pavilion had a seating capacity of 10,000. As part of the renovation, a ring of luxury suites was added to the top of the seating bowl. This addition necessitated the removal of 1,500 seats, reducing capacity to 8,479. The new Connor Uni-Force Flooring System was installed in October 2004. In June 2010, the University of Houston announced its intention to undergo a $40 million renovation and expansion to Hofheinz Pavilion after a four-month feasibility study conducted by AECOM. This would mark the largest single financial investment to the arena to that point.
Renovations to the facility began in March 2017 at the conclusion of the 2016–17 basketball season. The $60 million project was funded primarily by a $20 million donation from Tilman Fertitta, a UH alumnus who is also chairman of the UH board of regents. As part of the project, the interior of the arena was demolished and rebuilt into a modern 7,100-seat sports and entertainment facility. Work was scheduled to be completed by the start of the 2018–19 men's and women's basketball seasons; however, construction delays pushed the reopening back to December 1, 2018. During renovations, the building took on water from Hurricane Harvey, which turned the stripped-down arena bowl into a "swimming pool". A red line painted in the visitor's tunnel marks the height of the flood waters during the storm. Both the men's and women's basketball teams played at Health and Physical Education Arena at Texas Southern University during the length of the renovations, which spanned the entire 2017–18 season and the first month of the 2018–19 season.
Hofheinz Pavilion has hosted George Harrison, Elton John, Faces, Traffic, Jethro Tull, The Clash, Procol Harum, Elvis Presley, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Jackson 5, Alice Cooper, Bob Dylan, The Band, Prince & The New Power Generation, Madonna, Genesis, and Yes.
Nine of the fifteen songs featured in the concert film Ladies and Gentlemen – The Rolling Stones were filmed at Hofheinz Pavilion on June 25, 1972 – 5 from the 4:00 pm show, and 4 from the 9:00 pm show.
On Halloween in 1976, Parliament-Funkadelic, accompanied by opening acts Bootsy's Rubber Band and Sly and the Family Stone brought their P-Funk Earth Tour to the Hofheinz Pavilion. The P-Funk and Bootsy performances were released on VHS in 1986 and on DVD in 1998. They continued to perform sold-out shows at the venue in 1977, 1978, and 1979.
Prince held several shows at Hofheinz Pavilion on his Musicology Tour in 2004. Popular music concerts are still held at the Fertitta Center, often when a major act decides against playing at the larger (and ticketing industry-controlled) venues in town. Among recent examples have been concerts by acts including P!nk, Taylor Swift (both in 2009), Chris Brown, Katy Perry (both in 2011), Eric Church (in 2012), Muse and the Zac Brown Band (both in 2013). Houston native David Cook played at Hofheinz Pavilion as part of the 2008 edition of the American Idols Live! Tour. In 2014, A live concert The Grateful Dead played there on November 18, 1972 was released on compact disc and limited-edition vinyl.
In 2019, the Professional Bull Riders' Unleash the Beast Series made their first visit to Fertitta Center; it was the PBR's first event in Houston since 2012 (when they held a Built Ford Tough Series event at NRG Stadium). On April 29, 2020, it will host an episode of AEW Dynamite.
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