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Sunday, May 26, 2024 — Houston, TX

Construction mistake causes Tudor Fieldhouse floor to buckle

The Tudor Fieldhouse court was damaged over the New Year’s Eve weekend when rain water entered the stadium after the stadium’s roof was accidentally left open. While the stadium’s court was being fixed, Rice Athletics hosted games at Houston and St. Thomas. Cadan Hanson / Thresher

By Cadan Hanson     1/9/24 11:36pm

Last week, Tudor Fieldhouse sustained water damage, causing multiple men’s and women’s basketball games to be relocated to other university venues. 

According to Athletic Director Tommy McClelland, the Tudor Fieldhouse video board was being upgraded to put in higher resolution panels over New Year’s Eve weekend. During the construction, the company that was replacing the video board left the hatch of the roof open. Over the weekend, rain got into the building and caused buckling in the middle of the basketball court. 

McClelland said that the damage was not as serious as initially anticipated. 

“We cut out a 20 by 30 foot square in the middle,” McClelland said. “We were thinking about the worst-case scenarios early on, how long we might be out and what the cost might be. The company has taken responsibility for it. We did get lucky in that [the damage] was not as widespread as we thought and the company that we work with on the flooring had some [replacement] materials in the area.”

Tanner Gardner, the senior associate athletic director and chief operating officer for Rice Athletics, added that the damage complicated the men’s and women’s basketball schedules. 

“The damage to the court was an unfortunate situation as we had to move our first [American Athletic Conference] home games for both men’s and women’s basketball, but thanks to some great work by our staff, we were able to address the problem swiftly and with as minimal disruption as possible. We fully anticipate the women hosting Charlotte at Tudor on Thursday night,” Gardner wrote.

The Owls had a pair of home basketball games that were affected by the water damage: the women’s basketball conference opener against Wichita State University on Jan. 3 and a men’s game on Jan. 6 against the University of Texas at San Antonio. To accommodate for the water damage, Rice moved the women’s match to the Fertitta Center at the University of Houston. The men’s game was relocated to the Jerabeck Activity and Athletic Center at the University of St. Thomas.

“Because Monday was New Year’s Day and no staff was on site, the greatest difficulty was making contingency plans for our home games scheduled on Wednesday and Saturday,” Gardner wrote. “We were simultaneously working on alternate plans for the women’s game with Wichita State and the men’s game with UTSA and also what our options were in terms of repairs to the court.”

“Once it became clear that we were not able to host the games scheduled last week, our staff checked the basketball schedules for the other universities in the area to determine which facilities might be available,” Gardner wrote. “After that, it was a matter of our two staff working in tandem to host the games. We not only were able to find a venue for each game and host fans for both teams, but we also were able to broadcast each game on ESPN+.”

The repairs of the gym have been moving swiftly, according to assistant athletic director for athletic communications Chuck Pool — swiftly enough that Rice was able to host a University of Michigan alumni pep rally for the College Football Playoff National Championship, which took place in Houston on Sunday, Jan. 7.  

“Having an issue such as this confront us the moment we came to work on [Jan. 2] was not ideal, but our staff immediately went to work to minimize the impact on our student-athletes and fans,” Gardner wrote. “It was a total team effort by all of our staff in addition to the staff at Houston and St. Thomas.”

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