Houston-based attorney John Raley released the following statement on Thursday:
The family of the late Judge Roy Hofheinz filed a petition today seeking to require the University of Houston to honor its original agreement regarding the name of the Hofheinz Pavilion.
In 1969, Judge Hofheinz's charitable foundation agreed to pay the University $1.5 million (worth approximately $8 million in today's dollars) "in consideration of the new athletic field house of the University of Houston being designated and named 'Hofheinz Pavilion'." For many years, Hofheinz Pavilion has been a landmark on campus. The University recently offered its naming rights to an anonymous donor.
"One of our most important values, sometimes lost these days, is that a person's word is that person's bond" said attorney John Raley, who represents the Hofheinz family. "Does the University's honor have a price tag?"
The University did not propose a name change during either of its previous renovations of the Hofheinz Pavilion. Research shows at least 35 universities whose basketball centers were built between the 1920s and 1970s were updated in later decades. Two - the University of Maryland and the University of Mississippi - were completely demolished and rebuilt their arenas, but retained their historic names. The remaining 33 universities may have changed the names of their arenas from that of a non‐donor to a donor, but none of them removed the name of a donor or were permitted to sell naming rights in violation of an earlier donor's conditions.
Despite Judge Hofheinz's immeasurable contributions to our community, the Hofheinz Pavilion is the only public structure in Houston bearing his name.
"Judge Hofheinz raised money to build the University of Houston's first buildings, and donated very generously to the University over the years," Raley continued. "When the University was unable to finish its new athletic field house, he provided funds to cover over one‐third of the construction cost. There was only one condition on the donation: for once, something in Houston that he helped build would bear his name. The University agreed, took his money, spent it, and now wants to break their agreement. That is illegal and, as any fair minded Texan can see, simply wrong."
The University of Houston released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon:
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 its 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.