Hofheinz family files lawsuit to keep UH from renaming pavilion

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UH wants to rename Hofheinz Pavilion, and the family of the man the area is named after is filing a lawsuit to keep that from happening.

Since it was built in 1969 it's hosted events and basketball games from the Phi Slamma Jamma days until now. But Hofheinz Pavilion may be getting a new name.

UH employee Charlotte Donahue said, "I like tradition, why would they want to change the name?"

It's because an anonymous donor is offering $20 million for the naming rights.

Senior Brittany Bussey said, "We're gonna graduate there next week. It's a big thing to me and I don't know if I would like it if someone changed it. I couldn't say I graduated from Hofheinz."

The family of Roy Hofheinz says his charitable foundation agreed to pay $1.5 million four decades ago for the facility designated as Hofheinz Pavilion, that would be about $8 million today. Now the family is challenging the University in a petition.

Their attorney John Raley said, "Now years later having spent the money they've decided they no longer want to honor their agreement. We say that's wrong. The people should keep their word. It's an old value that's sometimes lost these days."

The University released this statement:

    The University of Houston appreciates and celebrates the generosity of all its donors and complies with the donors' intent and restrictions set forth in gift agreements. The petition in intervention filed today by several foundations claiming to be successors to the donor was in response to the University's filing of a standard petition to dissolve the trust as we have fulfilled its terms. The University is grateful for the Hofheinz family's contributions on behalf of the University, however, in this matter disagrees with their position regarding the duration of the naming rights as well as many of the facts they have alleged. The University has been in discussions with the Hofheinz family and though it disagrees with the family's position has sought an amicable resolution. Nevertheless, we will continue to work with them toward a solution which provides closure for all.


Hofeinz died in 1982 at the age of 70. Raley says the only thing besides a tombstone bearing his name in the city is the facility at UH. He was one of the youngest to serve as mayor, state representative and county judge. While his name isn't on many Houston landmarks his fingerprint surely is.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said, "I'm a Cougar, I lived in Moody Towers and went to Hofheinz. There's something in a name."

A pioneer of the Astrodome and Astroworld, Hofheinz was also instrument in bringing major league sports to Houston and started a network of radio and TV stations, including KTRK-TV and its original dome.

"It's bigger than just changing a name," said senior Brittany Bussey.

A hearing is scheduled for May 10, but Raley expects it will be continued.
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