Monday, June 25, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 148



UH Athletics narrowly escapes disaster

By Crystal J. Doucette
Daily Cougar Staff

Many UH students will remember the night of June 8, 2001, and the week that followed years after they graduate. The University suffered millions of dollars in
damages across campus and had to suspend summer classes for a week.

With all of the loss caused by Tropical Storm Allison, it's nice to find a bright spot.

The UH athletic facilities, though not unscathed, were barely touched in comparison to the rest of the main campus.

"In comparison to what's happened across campus, we're really lucky over here," UH Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk said.

"Robertson Stadium and Cougar Field have been affected. The grass on both surfaces has died," he said. "In the bigger scheme of things, it's a drop in the
bucket compared to what's happened across the street."

The athletics department had to drop about $15,000 to re-sod the football field in Robertson Stadium, a small sum next to the nearly $100 million the
University suffered in total damages due to the flood.

"We've got a game Sept. 1 in football and there's no way that field could regenerate. So it had to be replaced," Gladchuk said.

Cougar Field will not be re-sodded, as the department waits and hopes the field will recover from its drowning by spring.

The newly built softball field didn't incur any damages. The water sloughed out of the field into the street, leaving the grass healthy and green as the flood
waters flowed down Elgin to Cullen and into Cougar Field.

"We got lucky on one front. I mean flat out lucky," Gladchuk said.

Hofheinz Pavilion and its court survived the flood caused by Tropical Storm Allison, but it was almost a casualty as well.

"Hofheinz Pavilion, even in a modest rain, had taken on water because the drains in front of the loading dock had been clogged for quite some time,"
Gladchuk said.

"We had a request in with the physical plant for quite some time to come over and fix the drains. By chance, the schedule was such that a week before the
flood hit they came over and fixed the drains. Otherwise, Hofheinz would've been the Compaq Center. Hofheinz could've been under five feet of water."

The Houston Comets were planning on moving their games into Hofheinz Pavilion the Saturday after their facility and their court was submerged. But a lack
of power and a more pressing need to set up Hofheinz for academic purposes when the power was restored prevented the four-time WNBA championship
team from using the facility.

"We made a commitment to the University to use Hofheinz as an auxiliary center for academic reasons," Gladchuk said. "We couldn't allow them to use it
because it was set up for the University."

But the Comets were making plans on playing their June 17 game against the Utah Starzz on schedule after postponing two others, including the highly
anticipated matchup against the Los Angeles Sparks, originally scheduled for June 11.

The Guy V. Lewis Court was dismantled, packed and trucked to the Compaq Center so the team could have a floor to play on. 

"It was a goodwill gesture by the University," Associate Director for Facilities and Operations Jeff Davis said.

"They were welcome to use it as long as they liked," Gladchuk said. "We're very grateful we caught a break."

Even with a floor to play on, the Center still wasn't ready to take on fans. The Comets returned the floor to UH on June 18 and were playing on their brand
new court in time for the 69-65 postponed victory over the Sparks on Thursday.

Until the University's academic facilities are cleaned out and refurbished, the Lewis court will remain stacked on the side while an impromptu computer
station sets up shop in the middle of Hofheinz's hard rubber floor. 

As for the private boxes that are now temporary department offices: "We didn't quite envision their use, today, but we're pleased with their being used the way
they are," Gladchuk said.

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