HOUSTON - Madonna, the Rolling Stones and even Elvis played at the Hofheinz Pavilion as did the University of Houston Cougars basketball team.
On Sunday, after nearly 48 years, the team bid farewell to the iconic arena. The Pavilion will be transformed into the Fertitta Center for the 2018-2019 season.
UH legends came onto the court after the Cougars beat East Carolina University for one last time Sunday.
Rockets and Cougar alum Hakeem Olajuwon took a pass from NBA legend (and Cougar) Elvin Hayes before dunking to cap off the game.
"You know this is where it all started, so walking down the aisle, it was all coming back," said Olajuwon.
The end of an era. The start of a new adventure. Some famous faces join us for the final basket in Hofheinz. 🐾 pic.twitter.com/kQUS73gQ3R
— UniversityofHouston (@UHouston) March 5, 2017
Hundreds of former and current students shared in the memories Sunday, including Rick Reed, an alumnus of the Class of 1988.
"It's just all the history and the fond memories that this arena had when I went to school here," said Reed, whose son is a current student at UH. "It's bittersweet. He gets to see some of this. He gets to hear about it from me but this is a new era."
The new era began at halftime, when the Chairman of the Board of Regents at UH joined with the university president to break ground on the Fertitta Center.
"When everybody sees what it's going to look like it's going to blow us away, we are going to have a facility that is as good as anyone's in the country," Fertitta said.
Current track and field coach Leroy Burrell was also in attendance.
He's an alum and also a former world record holder in the 100 meters.
"This place has a lot of history: Guy versus Lewis, Phi Slama Jama, Elvin Hayes, so many greats came through here," Burrell said. "We'd run the stairs, I've seen the Cougars play here numerous times, I saw Prince in concert here."
In the meantime, the Cougars will play most of their home games at the Toyota Center downtown.