Legislative Agenda Calls for Increased Funding for UH System




O’Quinn donates $6 million for Robertson renovation

By Sonal Patel
Daily Cougar Staff

A $6 million gift from the John and Julie O’Quinn Foundation to the University of Houston will fund plans to renovate Robertson Stadium beginning in January. 

UH System Chancellor/UH President Arthur Smith formally announced the donation Monday at the UH System Board of Regents meeting. 

John O’Quinn, a member of the Board of Regents and a 1967 UH Law Center alumnus, has given $4 million in gifts to the center over the years in support of scholarships, faculty and the Law Library. 

"We are pleased that we were able to respond to this immediate need of the University and that we can participate in the rebirth of the Cougar Athletics," said Bob Higley, member of The John and Julie O’Quinn Foundation. 

Plans to rejuvenate the athletics program were announced last spring, with the hiring of Clyde "the Glide" Drexler as the UH Men’s Basketball coach in March. According to UH Athletics Director Chet Gladchuck, the renovation plans consist of two phases, both of which will be completed using private dollars. 

An aerial view provides a bird's eye look at Robertson Stadium after the proposed renovations.

John Sullivan/Coordinator for Sports Information

Phase I calls for the addition of 20 luxury suites, which were completed last summer, and the replacement of the current track with an extra ring of paneled seating that will increase seating capacity to 30,000. 

It also includes the construction of a new track and a field and soccer facility. To accommodate the additions, the entire playing field will be lowered by 12 feet. 

Phase II calls for the enclosure of the endzones with the addition of even more luxury suites and a second tier of seating, bringing the number of seats to 50,000.

"Unquestionably, a modern thriving athletics program communicates a positive image about the University, and enhances public perception of its students, its graduates, its faculty and its programs," said Smith.

Phase I will cost $10 million total, including $4 million for the new track facility and $6 million for the renovation. The donation will cover the costs of the renovations.

Phase II will cost $18 million, because of the need for additional work on the infrastructure. This phase would not begin unless demand for more seats called for it.

Now that the necessary funding of Phase I has been reached, the next step is receiving approval of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. With their consent, construction will begin and be completed in time for the 1999 football season.

Phase II, once the funds have been donated, must also be approved by the Board of Regents and then the coordinating board. 

John Sullivan/Coordinator for Sports Information

A side view of the proposed renovations to Robertson Stadium, which will increase seating and add several luxury suites.

In appreciation of their donation, the O’Quinns will have the field named after them.

"We could think of no better way to publicly thank Regent O’Quinn and his wife for their dedication to this university than to literally mark the field with their name, a constant reminder of their generous spirit and this timely gift," said Gladchuck.

Believing that the donation marks the first step to the completion of the stadium renovations, Smith said, "This generous contribution breathes life into the plans for renovating Robertson Stadium," said Smith. 

"We are ensuring that football games will be played on O’Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium for years to come. This gift helps invigorate not only the athletics program, but the entire university."

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