How Houston Cougars Football Operations Center will have a domino effect on other athletics facilities

Nov 26, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars players take the field before the game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

How Houston Cougars Football Operations Center will have a domino effect on other athletics facilities

The Houston Cougars will officially become members of the Big 12 on July 1, 2023. With that date quickly approaching, concerns regarding the university’s athletic facilities have been top of mind.

There is a new building on the horizon at UH. Both head football coach Dana Holgorsen and vice president of athletics Chris Pezman have pointed out the importance of constructing the football operations building.

“That thing needs to happen,” Holgorsen told reporters in February when talking about the building.

UH launched Houston Rise in June 2022, a $150 million fundraising campaign the university dubbed an initiative dedicated to building championship success in the Big 12.

The main focus of the fundraiser is to secure the bulk of the capital needed to build what is being called the state-of-the-art Football Operations Center, or FOC. Once completed, it will be the new home of Houston Cougars football.

In an interview with Gallery Sports, Pezman spoke about the ongoing fundraiser, and he also talked about the state of multiple facilities. The FOC is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to new buildings for athletics for the foreseeable future, he said.

“We’ve got the blocks in place, the bones, the structure is there,” Pezman said. “Between the Athletics-Alumni Center, Fertitta Center, Guy V. Lewis, Schroeder [Park], the baseball development center, TDECU Stadium and then [the Indoor Practice Facility for football], the last big really construction hurdle project … the real big block that is left is the Football Operations Center.”

Houston is doing well when it comes to raising funds for the campaign, Pezman said. The university’s supporters have committed more than one-third of the initial $150 million goal, meaning UH would have raised somewhere between $50 million and less than $75 million.

Over the past few months, UH has announced several gifts, including a $10 million anonymous donation to the fundraiser. Holgorsen pledged $1 million of his own to the campaign.

When UH first launched Houston Rise, the timeline for reaching the fundraiser’s goal was two years, according to Pezman. Two years from the announcement date of Houston Rise would be June 2024.

“We got a couple of seven and eight-figure gifts that we are working on closing that will obviously jump that number up,” Pezman said. “The Houston Rise campaign continues to be well received in many facets.”

The excitement of joining the Big 12 has already provided UH with multiple benefits, including selling 5,000 new season tickets before the end of April. The move has also allowed the university to have conversations with corporations it couldn’t even get ahold of in years past, Pezman said.

“The amount of companies that are coming in, in categories that were frankly ones that we couldn’t crack, are going very well,” he stated.

When the Football Operations Center was presented to the UH Board of Regents for construction approval in February 2022, it included various amenities such as a dining area, locker room, players’ lounge, sports performance area, meeting rooms, coaches’ offices, and other spaces.

The cost was expected to be somewhere between $73 to $76 million, with the facility taking about 100,000 to 105,000 square feet.

In January, the Houston Chronicle reported that the expected cost had risen somewhere between $90 and $140 million due to a rise in costs caused by supply chain issues that have been a problem all over the country. The final price would be contingent on the project’s final design.

Pezman told Gallery Sports UH is still working on finalizing those details. Construction for the project was first expected to begin in the summer of this year when approved by the UH Board of Regents.

“As we are working on and refining the design of the football operations facility, we are not at a point where we can share anything quite yet, but hopefully sooner than later, I’ll just leave it at that, we will be able to start showing some updated images on what that is going to look like.

“Everybody is going to be really excited once they see what is coming at TDECU Stadium,” Pezman said.

Once the FOC is finally complete, it will allow UH to focus on other buildings — namely the Athletics-Alumni Center, or AAC, which currently houses the football team and multiple other sports programs on campus.

Pezman said once the football team leaves the AAC, the building will need to be turned into an Olympic sport-only facility.

“We just have to repurpose it,” Pezman stated. “We’ve got an indoor track that is inside but is not really set up for spectator use.”

UH intends to use some Houston Rise funds to help modernize the AAC.

There are bleachers in its indoor track portion that need to be upgraded. Additionally, there are also restrictions with concessions and a lack of the necessary amount of restrooms needed for spectators that have to be addressed, Pezman said.

“This building was never contemplated or designed to be a public facility,” he added. “We’ve used it that way, and we’ve made it work, but now we need to continue to evolve it.”

The AAC opened in May 1995, according to UH. Once the FOC opens, projects to other buildings will get a spotlight.

“From there [once FOC opens], everything else will be additive,” Pezman said.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *