Preparations for demolition of Robertson Stadium have already started. The main part of the job next week will happen quickly, to minimize the disruption of traffic on campus.
Formerly Jeppesen Stadium and originally Public School Stadium when it was built in 1942, it was a joint project of the Houston Independent School District and the Works Progress Administration of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. Over the years, the stadium hosted many notable events, from the Pink Floyd concert in the 70s to Easter sunrise services by several churches.
Debbie Harwell teaches history at UH. She says Robertson Stadium was the centerpiece for the annual Thanksgiving Day classic between Jack Yates and Phyllis Wheatley high schools.
“Since the stadium resides in the 3rd Ward area, people would come from their homes. They would be walking over to the game dressed in their finest attire to attend the game.”
Deloris Johnson graduated from Yates in 1958. She says the Thanksgiving Day meal came after annual turkey day football clash.
“That was the biggest event of the year. It was Jack Yates High School from the 3rd Ward area, and Phyllis Wheatley High School from the 5th Ward area. You ate after you came from the game, and you were dressed in your finest if you weren’t in a uniform for the Ryan Cadets, the Jack Yates band or the Jack Yates Lions football team.”
Fellow alum Dr Thurman Robins, a retired TSU professor, says the stadium left him with fond memories.
“That’s kind of nostalgic, when we think about going back to those times. However, the new stadium is gonna be 40,000. And then with provisions, they’re gonna build it in such a way that they can expand it to 50,000 to 60,000 as they go on.”
The most famous pro football game took place in 1962, the AFL Championship Game between the Houston Oilers and the Dallas Texans. Dr Harwell understands the need to build a bigger stadium reflects the sign of the times.
“They definitely don’t build them like they used to. When you think about it, that stadium’s been there for 70 years, and it’s sad to see it go but at the same time, it’ll be nice to have a premier football facility as well.”
The new $105 million dollar stadium will be ready for the 2014 college football season.