A massive renovation of Jeppesen Stadium took place in 1999, thanks to a $6 million gift from the John and Julie O'Quinn Foundation to the University of Houston. In addition to the 20 luxury suites added in the summer of 1998, "Phase I" entailed replacement of the current track with a ring of tiered seating, bringing the stadium's capacity to 32,000. To accommodate this tiered seating, the entire playing field was lowered nine feet.
In recognition of John and Julie O'Quinn's generosity and loyal support, the field at Jeppesen Stadium was named "John O'Quinn Field." The Cougars christened their new field with a 28-3 victory over city-rival Rice, in what was the renewal of the storied Bayou Bucket battle.
Houston "Returned to Robertson," full time in 1998, marking the first time since 1949 that UH played its entire home schedule on campus. With its six home contests a year ago, The Cougars have now posted a 31-25-1 record during that span, thanks in part to a 5-1 mark last season.
In 1999 the Cougars defeated Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette, Cincinnati and Tulane in the friendly confines of "The Mighty Quinn." At one time during the home slate, Houston kept the opposition off the scoreboard in nine consecutive quarters. The ferocious Cougar defense allowed a meager 14.6 points per game in their new digs, while the offense generated 27 points a contest while rolling up 45 points against UL Lafayette and 36 versus Tulane.
Jeppesen Stadium, as it is known today, was originally constructed in 1941 as a joint project of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a federal agency created by Franklin D.
Roosevelt's New Deal.
In 1940, HISD purchased the land now bound by Holman, Cullen, Scott and Wheeler streets and passed a resolution in March 1941, to provide $650,000 to build the stadium.
The new stadium was named Houston Public School Stadium and served as the site for all home football games for area high schools. The first game was held September 18, 1942, when Lamar High School defeated Adamson High School of Dallas 26-7 before a crowd of 14,500.
The University of Houston's inaugural football game in the stadium was against Southwestern Louisiana on September 21, 1946. The stadium was the site for every subsequent Cougar home game through 1949. In 1950, the Cougars played five home games in Public School Stadium and two others in newly constructed Rice Stadium. UH moved all of its home games to Rice Stadium beginning in 1951.
The Cougars were the first college team to play its games in a domed stadium when they moved to the brand-new Astrodome in 1965. UH played all of its home games there through 1993 before splitting time in the two stadiums over the last three seasons. All-time, Houston was 112-55-3 in the Astrodome. The Cougars' record in Robertson is 46-38-1.
The HISD School Board renamed the stadium Jeppesen Stadium in 1958. UH bought Jeppesen Stadium in 1970 and the stadium was rededicated as Jeppesen Stadium in 1980 to honor former UH Board of Regents member and Athletics Committee Chairman Corbin J. Robertson. Jeppesen Stadium underwent a $2 million facelift in 1983 when Houston hosted the NCAA Track and Field Championships. Smaller projects readied the stadium for home games in 1995 and 1996, including erecting the scoreboard, which sat in front of where Jeppesen Fieldhouse used to stand.
During the summer of 2006, Robertson became the home of the Houston Dynamo, a Major League Soccer franchise. Following the Dynamo's entry into the Houston market, UH upgraded both the playing surface and lighting system, ensuring that no portable lighting will be needed for television purposes. A new scoreboard and video replay board was also added.
On April 28, 1998 - Parker Binion writes: New AD Chet Gladchuk, who oversaw BC's stadium expansion in the early 1990s, has plans to expand Jeppesen Stadium at UH. UH will construct 18 luxury boxes, along with a new press box and a presidential suite in the summer of 1998, ready for the 1998 season.
After the season, the plans are to replace the track at Robertson, dig down, lower the field, and build a lower level of seats that will enclose the field. This should be ready for 1999. The capacity will increase to 33,000.
The final phases include building upper end zone seats and upper decks which would bring the capacity to 50,000.
Donation To UH Will Fund Jeppesen Stadium Renovations
HOUSTON - Massive renovation plans for Jeppesen Stadium could begin in January 1999 thanks to a $6 million gift from the John and Julie O'Quinn Foundation to the University of Houston main campus. The gift was announced today (December 14, 1998) by UH President Arthur K. Smith at a Board of Regents meeting where the donation was formally accepted.
John O'Quinn is a member of the UH System Board of Regents and a UH Law Center alumnus.
Last spring the University of Houston officially declared that the "Catnap is over" and announced plans to rejuvenate the athletics program. An obvious part of that was the hiring of Clyde "the Glide" Drexler as the UH men's basketball coach in March. Another major change announced was a face-lift for Jeppesen Stadium, which was built in 1941 and presently seats less than 20,000. Houston moved all of its home football games on-campus for the first time in 29 seasons last year.
Renovation plans encompass two phases, both of which will be completed using private dollars, according to UH Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk. Phase I entails the addition of 20 luxury suites, which were added last summer, and the replacement of the current track with an additional ring of tiered seating, bringing seating capacity to over 30,000. To accommodate this tiered seating, the entire playing field will be lowered 12 feet. A new track and field/soccer facility will be constructed as part of Phase I as well.
Total cost of the Phase I renovation is $10 million, including $4 million to construct the new track facility and $6 million for the stadium renovation. The University has earlier raised the funds needed for the track/soccer facility.
Bob Higley, member of the O'Quinn Foundation Board, said that the Foundation recognized the importance of this gift to the future growth of the athletics program and the University of Houston. "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 Cougar Athletics."
The O'Quinn Foundation's gift completes the Phase I stadium funding and its timing will allow the University to bring the renovation proposal to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in January. With approval from the state board, construction can begin and the renovations will be completed in time for the 1999 football season.
Gladchuk thanked John and Julie O'Quinn for their support of UH and announced that in honor of this gift, the University will name the football field within Jeppesen Stadium "O'Quinn Field," which will be inscribed on its surface.
"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 unique gift," Gladchuk said.
"This generous contribution breathes life into the plans for renovating Jeppesen Stadium," President Smith commented. "We are ensuring that football games will be played on O'Quinn Field at Jeppesen Stadium for decades to come. This gift helps invigorate not only the athletics program, but the entire university." Smith added that, 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.
John O'Quinn is a 1967 alumnus of the UH Law Center and is one of its leading benefactors, having given $4 million in gifts to the center over the years in support of scholarships, faculty support, and most particularly the Law Library, which bears his name. He taught as an adjunct professor at the Law Center from 1968 to 1983, and currently serves on the board of the UH Law Foundation. His generosity to UH has extended also to the UH Alumni Organization, which houses the O'Quinn Great Hall, as well as to university scholarships, special events and student awards.
Named one of the nation's top 10 litigators by the National Law Journal, O'Quinn is founder of O'Quinn, Kerensky, McAninch & Laminack (now known as O'Quinn & Laminack).
He serves as a director of the Harris County Children's Protective Services Fund. He is director of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the Houston Trial Lawyers Association. He is also the founder of the John M. O'Quinn and Julie J. O'Quinn Foundation. John O'Quinn was the 1993 Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Houston and the 1996 Alumnus of the Year, selected by the University of Houston Law Alumni Association.
April 1999 Press Release The University of Houston held Groundbreaking for the new O'Quinn Field at Jeppesen Stadium on March 23. Construction on the stadium is underway with the grand opening scheduled for the UH home opener on Sept. 4, 1999 versus Rice.
Construction Underway: March 1999
Target Completion Date: August 1999
Architect: Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, Inc. (LAN)
Previous Capacity: 20,500
Projected New Capacity: Approximately 33,000
Description: Phase I of the renovation of Jeppesen Stadium involves replacing the track with a ring of lower tiered seating. To accommodate this new ring of field level seats, the entire playing field will be lowered nine feet. Seating will be constructed in each end zone.
Other Components: Twenty luxury suites on both sides of the stadium were added for the 1998 season. New concession stands and restrooms will be built in each end zone while interior and exterior landscaping includes sidewalks and walkways, fencing and patios. As many as 12 additional luxury suites and two elevators will be added. A new scoreboard and sound system will be installed.
Track & Field/Soccer Complex: As part of Phase I of this project, a new Track and Field/Soccer Complex is under construction behind the Athletics/Alumni Center. This $4 million facility, scheduled for completion in May of 1999, will serve as the new home of the UH men's and women's track and field and women's soccer teams.
Funding: A $6 million gift from the John and Julie O'Quinn Foundation completed funding for Phase I of the Jeppesen Stadium renovation plan. In recognition of this gift, UH Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk announced in December that the football field within Robertson will be named "O'Quinn Field".
John O'Quinn: Named one of the nation's top ten litigators by the National Law Journal, O'Quinn is founder of O'Quinn, Kerensky, McAninch & Laminack (now known as O'Quinn & Laminack). A 1967 alumnus of the UH Law Center, John O'Quinn is one of the school's leading benefactors,
having given $4 million in gifts to the center over the years in support of scholarships, faculty support, and the Law Library. O'Quinn taught as an adjunct professor at the Law Center from 1968 to 1983, and currently serves on the board of the UH Law Foundation. He was the 1993 Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Houston.