Excitement filled the air Friday morning as the University of Houston broke ground on its new state-of-the-art stadium that will be ready for play in August of 2014. The public event emceed by UH alum and the voice of the Houston Rockets, Bill Worrell, brought together University, city and state leaders in celebration of the on-campus facility.
Houston's Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics, Mack Rhoades, joined UH Chancellor Dr. Renu Khator and the chair of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, Nelda Luce Blair, in thanking all supporters of the stadium project and announcing an additional $5 million gift from the John O'Quinn Foundation. Like it was at Robertson Stadium, the field at the new Houston Football Stadium will be named John O'Quinn Field.
"It feels terrific. It's a great day, not just for our athletic department, but also for everybody—all of our alumni and our former players," said Rhoades. "Our athletics department is moving forward in terms of being nationally competitive. We want to regain that prominence that we once all enjoyed 20 years ago. That's our mission, that's our vision. This is a big step."
Stadium renderings released in December showed a continuous bowled stadium with at least 40,000 seats and a specially coated corrugated metal exterior skin with an opening on the stadium's northwest side to frame the dynamic downtown Houston skyline.
"We are on a mission to build a nationally competitive and internationally recognized university," added Khator. "I think athletics is a very important part for our dreams for our future."
Matching the buildings adjacent to the athletics corridors and the new Stadium Parking Garage, the Houston Football Stadium will allow natural light into the concourse while still protecting fans from the elements and providing ample air flow throughout the concourse.
After conducting a comprehensive sun and shade study, Houston administration and the stadium design team decided on an East-West orientation for the stadium similar to stadiums at Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Oregon. The orientation provides fans and TV audiences with a dynamic view of the Houston skyline while also improving shading and comfort for fans without hindering the abilities of student-athletes.
The stadium, currently estimated to cost $105 million pending final Board of Regents approval and bid package pricing, will originally seat 40,000 but was designed for a future capacity of 60,000 seats. This included the strategic placement and installation of foundations in the current phase to accommodate future expansion.
Action at the stadium will be contested on a state-of-the-art synthetic turf field that will allow a multitude of events while remaining low maintenance and cost efficient.
Houston fans seeking a full-game experience were kept in mind during the design process as the stadium will have a 12,400-square foot club overlooking the field of play and available to fans seated in a multitude of premium seating options. The club will also be available for rental throughout the year.
Twenty-six suites stretching from end zone to end zone on the stadium's south side will be located one level above the club and will each be outfitted with 12 outside seats, four inside bar stools and an entertainment area with a hi-definition television, solid surface countertops, hand-crafted cabinetry and stainless steel sink and appliances.
Thirty-four loge boxes with four padded seats and a hi-definition monitor will be located on the concourse level while 766 armchair style padded club seats (22 inches wide) are situated in the south lower bowl between the 25-yard lines.
Additional premium seating includes 2,778 armchair seats (20 inches wide) located in both the north and south bowls and 1,210 bench backs with the majority located in the lower bowl. The stadium also contains four open-air lower bowl party decks with 24 armchairs and two open-air party suites containing 58 padded armchairs.
The Bert F. Winston Band and Performance Center (39,089 square feet) at the east end of the stadium will contain Spirit of Houston Band Recital Halls and classroom spaces, a multi-purpose gallery area and the Houston Athletics Ticket Office. The UH Ticket Office will be located adjacent to the Legends Plaza, an area recognizing the Houston Football tradition, at the stadium's northeast entrance.
A total of 160 concession points of sale throughout the stadium will greet Houston fans in 2014 as will a state-of-the-art HD, LED wide-screen video board located on the west end of the stadium. Premium concession items will be available thanks to a full-service kitchen in the stadium that will also serve suite holders, club patrons and special events throughout the year.
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