SAN ANTONIO — Walking through the artifacts and basketball memorabilia inside Allen Fieldhouse is like traveling through a Kansas time machine. Oklahoma State officials have a similar setup inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. At Oklahoma, school officials just renovated the Barry Switzer Center, where the Sooners’ football history is brought to life.
“I asked somebody to show me where the Texas Hall of Honor is,” UT Athletic Director Chris Del Conte told a crowd of Longhorns fans on Tuesday. “There isn’t one.”
Later, he told the American-Statesman, “Blew me away.”
Del Conte said Tuesday he’s hired an architectural firm to design an UT-themed hall of honor that will take up 30,000 square feet inside the north end zone of Royal-Memorial Stadium. It’s a project just under $10 million, Del Conte said, and half the money has already been raised. Hammers, nails and sheetrock will fly after the 2018 football season.
“If you write a big enough check,” Del Conte said, “I can start this thing in January.”
Add a hall of honor onto Del Conte’s laundry list of things he’s unveiled on the This is Texas Tour of booster groups around the state. In Dallas, he detailed how cars would be removed from San Jacinto Blvd. on gamedays to create a carnival-like atmosphere. In Fort Worth, he gave details about how golf carts would ferry people from 21st Street to the stadium gates. In San Antonio, Del Conte said the whole thing will be dubbed “Bevo Boulevard.”
At every stop, Del Conte has outlined plans for a $140 million renovation to the south end zone of Royal-Memorial Stadium and the long-range vision for a new basketball arena. Who knows what’ll spring forth during Wednesday’s tour stop in Houston?
“Moss isn’t growing between my toenails, bud,” Del Conte said.
After taking the job, Del Conte learned there are “three storage sheds in Georgetown” full of Texas trophies and whatnot. He wants that on full display for all to see.
“An athletic event is where you come to celebrate our institution,” Del Conte said after the San Antonio tour event. “Where do you bring fans to gather and talk about our history? You bring old lettermen back to say, ‘God, I played for Darrell Royal and here’s my coach.’ Then you have old tape about it. You have new video and a place that says, ‘This is Texas.’ That’s one thing we’re missing.”
UT does have some trophies on display on the seventh floor of Royal-Memorial Stadium’s north end zone, the floor for athletic department staff. That area is closed to the public on gameday, though. The four Waterford crystal footballs signifying UT’s national titles — and most other football trophies — are on display inside the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center beyond the south end zone.
“We have plenty of trophies around the building, too, right?” Del Conte said. “But they’re on the seventh floor. There are some upstairs in storage on the 10th floor. There are some in the football offices, baseball offices and some scattered around. But we don’t have a central location.
“We have a lot of our older trophies that have been put in storage that we need to bring back.”
This new hall of fame would take up space on the football stadium’s north end zone ground-floor level, where there’s currently a food court and dozens of tables and chairs. A life-sized statue of UT mega-donor Red McCombs and the “Big Bertha” drum also greet visitors upon entry.
“Yeah, I want to take it all away,” Del Conte said about the food court. “I envision all of that becoming utilized space for our hall of honor.”
So blowing out the Starbucks and Subway?
“Doesn’t make a difference to me,” he said. “We’re bringing people in to celebrate our great institution. I understand the concept. It is what it is.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.