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John O'Quinn Field at Corbin J. Robertson Stadium, often referred to as simply Robertson Stadium, is a multi-purpose stadium in Houstonmarker located on the campus of the University of Houstonmarker. It is the home of the Houston Cougars football and women's soccer teams. The stadium also hosts home games for the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, which began play in the 2006 season.

The stadium hosted the Houston Oilers during the first five years of their existence from 1960 to 1964. On January 1, 1961, it hosted the American Football League Championship Game (for the 1960 title). The Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Chargers (24–16) to become the league's first champions. It was also the site for pro football's first ever double-overtime game on December 23, 1962. The Oilers lost to the Dallas Texans (20–17) in that year's AFL title game. This was the only overtime game in the 10-year history of the AFL.

As of 2006, the capacity of Robertson Stadium is 32,000. The stadium's record attendance in the current capacity was set at 32,114, when Houston defeated Texas Tech 29-28 on September 26, 2009.

History

Planning and construction

In March 1940 the Houston Independent School District (HISD) purchased the site for a stadium from the Settegast Estate for $75,550.16. Another seven acres was acquired soon thereafter to bring the original site total to 59.7939 acres. The area of land is now bound by Holman Street, Wheeler Street, Scott Street, and Cullen Boulevard.

The stadium was then constructed as a joint project between HISD and the Works Progress Administration by the Fretz Construction Company. Named the "Public School Stadium", it was completed in 1942, and had a seating capacity of 20,500. Public School Fieldhousemarker (later known as Jeppesen Gymnasium), a multi-purpose indoor arena which was constructed simultaneously, stood alongside. The stadium's first game was held before a crowd of 14,500 on September 18, 1942, when Houston's Lamar High School defeated Dallas' W.marker H.marker Adamson High Schoolmarker 27-7.

Early years

HISD football games continued to be played at the stadium when the Houston Cougars football team played their inaugural game in front of a crowd of 11,000 with Southwestern Louisiana (now known as Louisiana–Lafayette). The University of Houston continued to host home football games there from 1946 to 1950 before moving to Houston Stadiummarker in 1951 and then to the Astrodomemarker in 1965. Prior to the 1957 football season, HISD changed policy at the stadium to disallow any teams with black students to play there despite this being previously allowed without issue. In 1958, the school district renamed the stadium "Jeppesen Stadium" for school board member Holger Jeppesen, who had vigorously lobbied for its construction.

In 1960, the Houston Oilers began play as a charter member of the American Football League, and arranged to lease the stadium from HISD as their home stadium. The team was owned by Bud Adams, a wealthy Houston oilman who upgraded Jeppesen Stadium for professional football use. Part of Adams' upgrades were expanding the seating capacity to 36,000. This allowed for the largest attendance for the stadium ever of 37,981 when the Dallas Texans competed against the Oilers on December 23, 1962 for that year's AFL title game. At this time HISD continued its use of the stadium with an average of ten games per week. The Oilers remained at Jeppesen until 1964, when they moved onto Rice Stadiummarker.

In 1966, the University of Houston developed a master plan that emphasized the acquisition of the stadium.

Renovations and current use

Corbin J. Robertson, former UH Board of Regents member and Athletics Committee Chairman, funded its renovation in 1970, and the stadium was bought for $6.8 million USD by the University of Houston. In 1980, it was renamed "Robertson Stadium" in his honor.

The Philips Vidiwall with scoreboard as part of the South end zone at Robertson Stadium
Beginning with the 1994 season, the Houston Cougars football team began splitting their home schedule with the Astrodome and Robertson Stadium. The University of Houston ended its lease agreement to hold home football games at the Astrodome before the 1998 season, moving the entire home slate of games back to Robertston Stadium on campus for the first time since 1949. In 1996, adjacent Jeppesen Gymnasiummarker, in need of heavy renovations, was demolished to make way for a new scoreboard. The stadium was heavily renovated in 1999 to bring it up to NCAA Division I-A (now Division I FBS) standards for football venues. The playing surface was lowered nine feet and the running track eliminated to facilitate the addition of new seating on the sidelines and end zones. A total of twenty luxury suites were also constructed above both sides of the stadium. The playing field itself was named in honor of Houston attorney John O'Quinn, a donor to the project, thus modifying its official name to "John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium".

On August 2, 2002, the NFL's Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys competed against each other in a scrimmage at Robertson Stadium. It was the first public game for the Texans, which were an expansion team to the league.

Several improvements were made in 2006 thanks in part to a $1.7 million donation from the Houston Dynamo. The lighting system was upgraded and a new scoreboard and a Philips Vidiwall video screen was added. This was completed in August 2006 despite the fact that Houston Dynamo plans to vacate the stadium for their own soccer-specific stadium within the next three years.

The University has hired the architecture firm of Leo A. Daly to assess the stadium and develop a plan for the long-term improvement of the facility. Plans have been proposed to replace the end zone sections with an integrated bowl and add an upper deck that would increase capacity to 50,000, but there is no immediate impetus to begin construction.

More recently, long-rumored plans of an endzone facility including locker rooms, offices, retail space, and luxury boxes have progressed to the fundraising stage. In April 2007, preliminary renderings of the new facility were displayed to high level Cougar Pride members. Planning appears to be in the very late stages and an official announcement should come soon.

With its current seating, the largest attendance for a single game at Robertson Stadium was on September 26, 2009 when 32,114 people watched the Cougars defeat the Texas Tech Red Raiders. This was the first game the Cougars played as a nationally ranked team in 18 years.

Events hosted

An aerial view of Robertson Stadium
The 1960 AFL Championship game and 1962 AFL Championship game were played at Robertson Stadium by the Oilers against the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Texans respectively. On January 16, 1965, the 1964 AFL All-Star game was also held there.

The 1983 NCAA Track & Field Championship was held at Robertson Stadium prior to the removal of the track.

On December 1, 2006, the stadium was host to the Conference USA Football Championship, and on November 10, 2007, the Dynamo defeated the Kansas City Wizards in the 2007 MLS Western Conference final. On January 19, 2008, the 83rd and 84th annual East-West Shrine Game was played at Robertson Stadium.

In 1972, ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, and Willie Nelson performed at Robertson Stadium, in addition to the The Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and The Allman Brothers in 1974. Other concerts held at the stadium include Pink Floyd during their 1977 "In the Flesh" Animals tour, and Alice Cooper in 1980.

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