Tilman Fertitta Pledges $20 Million to UH Basketball Arena Renovation

Facility to be Named Fertitta Center, Pending Board of Regents’ Approval

Style Magazine Newswire | 8/25/2016, 2:33 p.m.
Tilman J. Fertitta, globally recognized entrepreneur and Chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, presented a historic ...
Tilman J. Fertitta, globally recognized entrepreneur and Chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, presented a historic $20 million gift to the University of Houston on Aug. 25, 2016 to transform the UH basketball arena into a state-of-the-art collegiate sports facility and rename the arena Fertitta Center. L-R: UH President Renu Khator, Fred Hofheinz, UH System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta and UH Men's Basketball Coach Kelvin Sampson

Tilman J. Fertitta, globally recognized entrepreneur and Chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, presented a historic $20 million gift to the University of Houston to transform the UH basketball arena into a state-of-the-art collegiate sports facility and rename the arena Fertitta Center. Fertitta’s gift is the largest individual donation to UH Athletics. The naming must be approved by the Board of Regents, which will consider the item on today’s meeting agenda.

“This gift is personal. It represents a commitment from my family and me to support the University of Houston in its quest to strengthen our nationally competitive institution, both in academics and athletics,” Fertitta said. “Upgrading our athletics facilities shows we are serious about competing at the highest levels of collegiate sports for many years to come. I’m proud of where the University of Houston is today, and I’m proud to make this investment in my university’s future.”

“We are committed to pursuing excellence in all aspects of higher education at the University of Houston,” said UH President Renu Khator, “and that includes being nationally competitive in athletics. This transformational gift from Chairman Fertitta will allow our basketball arena to be substantially enhanced, reclaiming its status as one of Houston’s – and the nation’s -- premier sports venues. The chairman’s incredible generosity is rivaled only by his extraordinary dedication to improving our University.”

“Today is another great day to be a Houston Cougar. Thanks to the generous support of Chairman Tilman Fertitta and his family, and also for the support of the Hofheinz family not just for our University, but for the city as well. Our Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs will soon compete in the Fertitta Center, a facility that will be second to none,” Vice President for Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “Behind the leadership of Tilman, Dr. Khator and our Board of Regents, this is an exciting time to be a part of UH Athletics, and we will continue to strive for excellence, academically, athletically and as leaders in our community, in all our sport programs.”

“Facilities are a critical part in college athletics today, and the Fertitta Center will play an important role as we recruit the best student-athletes to our campus. Combined with the Guy V. Lewis Development Facility, Houston Basketball will soon have the finest facilities in the country,” Men’s Basketball Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I am grateful to Chairman Tilman Fertitta and his family, the Hofheinz family, Dr. Khator and our Board of Regents for their commitment to our program, our Athletics Department and our University.”

The Fertitta gift is a significant step forward in the $60 million University of Houston Basketball capital renewal project for the center’s design and renovation. Design work is currently underway. Renovations and construction are scheduled to follow the 2016-17 season, with completion expected during the 2018-19 season. Plans for the Cougars’ home facility during the 2017-18 season have not been finalized.

The facility will feature a premium club area and a courtside club. The reconfigured bowl will move mid-court seating locations closer to game action with floor-level seating opposite the team benches for UH students. Renovations include a new audio system, sports lighting and video boards as well as new concession stands and expanded restrooms. The facility’s exterior also will be refreshed.