Ask Mack | September, 2013

Sep 6, 2013

 Ask Mack | September, 2013

Margaret Johnson
It has been a very long time since the Fight Song and Alma Mater have been printed in the football program. I think it would be a great addition to the program and would encourage fans to learn the words. Please give it serious thought.
Margaret, thanks for your suggestion. We evaluate every aspect of our Athletics Department each year and our game programs are no exception. We are actually adding the fight song lyrics and alma mater lyrics to this year's programs so that our fans know the lyrics and can join fellow Cougars as we sing loud and proud.

In our homepage, under tennis, I notice we refer to ourselves as mid-major. Why would we, with excellent athletic credentials, use this term?
Joe, I believe you may be referring to this article. We were labeled a mid-major by TennisRecruiting.net in rankings that were released prior to our move to The American Athletic Conference. Now that we are in The American, we will no longer be labeled as such. That being said, I have to congratulate tennis head coach Patrick Sullivan as in the article you'll see that his recruiting class ranked sixth nationally among all schools, major or mid-major, and was the second-highest mid-major ranking ever! We are excited about the future with Patrick and his program and if you haven't seen the women's tennis team in action, I encourage you to do so this year. And Joe, I agree with you, the University of Houston is not a mid-major program.

Mike Higdon
Are there plans to upgrade our non-conference schedules in football and basketball in the near future?
There are, Mike. We recently announced our non-conference football series with Arizona in 2017-18, and we are close to announcing a handful of other non-conference football series. We know the importance of a strong non-conference schedule in regards to rankings and we meet weekly to discuss potential opponents and the benefit of playing certain teams. One other point I want to make is that we want non-conference opponents to come play us in Houston as well and are only interested in home-and-home series so that we can give our fans home games with quality opponents. These are also the same principles we use for our basketball schedules and really all of our sports schedules.

Nick Juhasz
One of the charming characteristics of Robertson Stadium were the palm trees near all four corners of the end zone. Are there any plans to incorporate palm trees within the new football stadium?

Nick, I agree that the palm trees were a nice feature in Robertson Stadium but they do not fit into our plans at the new stadium. So no, we will not have palm trees in our new stadium. Russell Sollock Hi Mack. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. What I would like to know is do you have a certain criteria already set in place to move forward with the stadium expansion? For instance, if we hit 20 or 25K in season ticket sales will we automatically move towards the first expansion to 50K?

And part II of the question, is when we do make that decision, will there need to be another stage of fundraising before we can start that phase and when we do expand will this take place and be completed during one off season?

Russell, great question! While there is no automatic trigger, I will tell you the decision will be based on demand and the amount of season ticket holders. If we consistently have a full stadium and we begin selling out on a consistent basis then the expansion becomes an immediate consideration. In regards to the second part of your question, we would evaluate the cost of expansion and what type of revenue we would garner as a result of the additional seats when that time comes.

Brian Reading

Would the Athletics Department consider releasing photographs taken during the demolition of Robertson Stadium and the construction of the new stadium into the public domain?

This would mean that the images could be used on sites like Wikipedia, the fifth most-visited website in the world, and it would allow for much more exposure to the new stadium.

Great idea, Brian! Our Athletics Communications office is currently in the process of getting those photos out into the public domain, including Wikipedia.

Albert Holden

Hi Mr. Rhoades, The map of the new stadium has the field alignment more east and west. I thought all football fields had to align north and south. I hope the map is wrong.
Hello, Albert. You are correct, the map of the new stadium is aligned east-to-west. We purposely aligned it east-to-west for a number of reasons:

The new East-West orientation provides more fans and our TV audiences a dynamic view of the Houston skyline. The east side seats in Robertson Stadium experienced intense sun during day games. We conducted a comprehensive sun and shade study at three different kickoff times in early and late fall. The study indicated improved shading and comfort for our fans without hindering the ability of our student-athletes. The new orientation attempts to mitigate the impact of the late summer sun on the fan experience while also achieving several other goals:

  1. The north sideline seats are adjacent to the new Stadium Parking Garage for convenient access;
  2. The new orientation is congruent with the University's current grid system;
  3. It creates a more efficient surface parking system; and
  4. It creates vibrant and relevant interaction with the adjacent academic corridor.

The new East-West orientation is not unique to the University of Houston. Many FBS football stadiums such as Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Oregon have similar orientations.

Tony K.
I am curious if there is some kind of initiative to increase our Basketball strength of schedule. I know this doesn't just hurt us but also hurts the league and our ability to add multiple teams into the tournament. Will there be some sort of agenda in increasing the strength of schedule?

Tony, now that we are competing in The American Athletic Conference, our conference schedule will be loaded with a number of teams who have consistently competed in the NCAA Tournament. We play Louisville this year, the 2013 NCAA champion, and also add UConn, who won in 2011. Our strength of schedule will be greatly enhanced by our conference affiliation.

Also, the level of our program is now getting back to where we can schedule stronger non-conference opponents as well.

Everyone knows that Texas is the No. 1 area for high school talent in many sports. However, that talent is being exported. In addition to re-branding and moving to a more nationally recognized conference, what else is UH doing to attract Texas males and females?

Recruiting for us begins in Houston and grows outside the city while staying within the Texas borders. Our coaches are extremely focused on recruiting within the state and taking advantage of the talent that comes from the state of Texas. Recent recruiting in all sports show that we have signed more from Texas, and the state has our full attention.

Andy Anderson
Am I to understand that the 2014 tickets start at $200 each. You may be losing a lot of folks who can't afford to renew after 2013.
Andy, the $200 seat you reference will be the base price for our reserved seating in 2014. This will actually be less expensive for our fans than the reserved seating this year while playing away from campus, which costs $225 per seat, and from our last year at Robertson Stadium, which was $210 per seat.

We will also continue to have our general admission and family plan areas as well. General admission season tickets will cost $140 each, and a family season ticket plan will cost $299 and provide each family with two adult and two youth tickets for each game.

We believe the plan we have laid out for 2014 provides a seating option for a variety of household budgets, and we remain committed to providing great seating options for Houston fans going forward.

Corky Barnes
How many rows will be in Section 129 of the new stadium?

Corky, there will be 22 rows in Section 129.

Rick Lines
How do you look up how many points you have for the seating allocation for the new stadium? And, as far as the $10,000 donation for Loge boxes, is that a one-time donation or is it required to keep the loge box every year?
If it is not a requirement every year, what kind of donation is required to keep your loge box? Can you make the pledge and pay over five years or is it due all at once?

To look up your Cougar Pride priority points, please click here.

If you have not logged in before, please click the link and register your account. Once you are properly logged in, it will take you to the home page. Click "View My Priority Points". You'll be able to see your priority point information. If you have trouble logging into your account, please call the Athletics Ticket Office for assistance at 713-GO-COOGS (462-6647), 1-877-COUGAR-5 (268-4275) or email tickets@uh.edu. They will be best able to help you set up or reset your online account.

The $10,000 is a 5-year pledge, so $2,000 annually with the first pledge payment due no later than June 1, 2014. The stadium commitment will lock you in to your seats for a 10-year term, meaning we will not require another capital project gift for 10 years.

The Loge Box pricing structure includes the annual donation required. Tickets are $200 each plus the donation. Please see the breakdown below:

  • $7,000 - ($800 Ticket Cost + $6,200 Cougar Pride Seat Donation)
  • $6,000 - ($800 Ticket Cost + $5,200 CP Seat Donation)
  • $5,000 - ($800 Ticket Cost + $4,200 CP Seat Donation)
  • $4,000 - ($800 Ticket Cost + $3,200 Cougar Pride Seat Donation)
  • $3,000 - ($800 Ticket Cost + $2,200 CP Seat Donation)

I have two questions for you. Are there currently any plans to provide a facility for volleyball that is exclusive to that sport? Are there plans for another indoor football facility that is practice worthy? Thanks for your answer.
Charles, over the past year we've had several discussions about our volleyball program and what is best for it in regards to a future home facility. We are evaluating if Hofheinz Pavilion is the right facility when it is renovated or if there is a way to renovate the Athletics/Alumni Center to make a closed off and more intimate venue for our volleyball program.

Javier Barrera
The new football uniforms are unbelievably terrible. I am sure others will tell you different; they don't have good taste.
Javier, many others including our players and recruits have said differently.

John Bevil
Are there any plans to close Cullen between Holman and Wheeler for tailgating "alley" by the new stadium for tailgates to set up? That could be a cool thing students might enjoy. What about linking the parking garage to the stadium with something covered or elevated walkway? What are the plans for the light rail stop at the new stadium?
Let me tell you that the idea of closing off Cullen for tailgating is a great idea and one that is currently being discussed. As far as linking the parking garage to the stadium, unfortunately, that does not look like a possibility with the current design of both facilities. Lastly, the latest designs for Metro depicted a stop on Scott near Cleburne which would be a convenient access point to the stadium at the Southwest gate. Given how light rail transportation has assisted in access for events in other metropolitan areas, this is viewed as an option for potential growth.

Robert Alwell
Are we going to have a Cougar walk for the new stadium? If so, is there a way for us to have it made with personalized bricks containing the names of fans?

Yes, we are going to have a Cougar Walk. Several options are being evaluated for having the team arrive at the stadium. We are considering logistical arrangements that would provide a reminiscent experience previously featured and enjoyed at Robertson Stadium. We should have a better understanding of how best to facilitate in the next six months.

A "BRICK" program is being advanced for the development of the stadium and to provide an opportunity for everyone to share in the experience of building our future home. We expect for most of the walkways around the perimeter to feature customized bricks honoring the contributions of our fans.

When can we buy the new football jerseys online and in the campus bookstore?
As of right now, we do not expect Nike to have new uniforms available for purchase this season as those orders are placed very early in the Spring, and the uniform change was made after the deadline for fall orders. We are working with our suppliers to try to possibly expedite the process.

Billy McCalla
How are we doing on the naming rights on the new stadium? Any progress? Interests?
Billy, we have interest by several major groups, but we cannot disclose publicly who they are. I can tell you that discussions with these groups are continuing and have been very positive.

Byman Wilson
I thought that with the new conference all our games would be televised on a major network. ESPN3 is hardly a major forum. What is the status of our games?
Byman, we are entering the final year of the conference's current football TV agreement, negotiated when it was the Big East Conference. As you might have already seen, every one of our men's basketball conference games will be aired nationally on the ESPN and CBS families of networks. We continue to see enhanced TV exposure in our new conference and will do so in the future.

We are also very grateful for the coverage on ESPN3 and do consider it a major forum with the advancements in online streaming that many are taking advantage of. In the past, our games on ESPN3 this season would more than likely not been aired at all so we feel it does provide those out of town Cougars a great opportunity to still catch our team in action as opposed to not having any option to see the team online.

Kerry Davidson
Phase 3 of construction was approved by BOR, $15M, bringing the overall total to $120M. Was this the original plan or has the project cost escalated? What physical aspects of the stadium are covered by the $15M?
The additional funding is a combination of further scope development, the escalated construction costs, a larger video board and higher-quality fan experience items.

M. Johnson
When is the schedule going to be completed? The season is just a couple of weeks away and there are still a lot of TBD on the start times for the games. Many of us have to plan our schedules around the schedule and it makes it difficult to finalize our plans due to the uncertainty of the times.
As far as dates, our schedule is complete and will not change. For kickoff times, those are set by our conference's network TV partners and will be determined no later than 12 days prior to the day of the game with the exception of the six-day window that can be enacted by our conference TV partners up to three times in a season. This is the same procedure for all other major conferences and if you look at some of the major programs across the country, we actually already have more game times than a number of them.

Chris Coleman
Hello Mack, Can you give us any updates regarding the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion, including estimated cost, timelines and the entire process as a whole?
Yes I can, Chris. Our first priority is a practice facility for our men's and women's basketball programs. Once the Hofheinz renovation starts, our teams won't be able to practice in Hofheinz Pavilion so we need a practice facility for our teams to work out in as opposed to the costs of having them practice off campus. Also, the practice facility allows us to stay in step with many other athletic departments and gives us a wow factor in recruiting.
We are planning on hiring the architects and engineers for the practice facility this fall with the design time taking approximately six months and the construction to immediately follow.

Once the practice facility is completed we will begin the process of renovating Hofheinz Pavilion. We estimate the practice facility to cost around $18-22 million. We are still working on the numbers for the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion and we will need to raise additional money for the facility once we do finalize the numbers.



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