So long, and good riddance, to Texas Southern’s Durley Field

Some hearty souls will remember a frankly acidic tirade I published upon returning from a Grambling game in 2006 played at the on-campus field of Texas Southern, a dark and ill-suited place called Durley Field.

Grambling’s players dressed and taped up at the team hotel, since they were forced to use part of the TSU gymnasium for a locker room. They emerged to find a poorly prepared field, with lighting that was worse.

The GSU radio broadcasting team had to climb a rickety ladder in order to reach foldout chairs on top of a tiny metal building fastened atop the home side stands. Temporary bleachers were brought in just to accommodate the visiting Tiger Marching Band.

Loose plywood boards covered long-jump pits alongside the haphazardly installed artificial turf, which had dangerous seams and a hump in the middle that gave new meaning to the term “running downhill.”

I’m happy to report movement on a sorely needed remedy for this embarrassing situation.

Texas Southern and athletics director Charles McClelland announced this week an agreement with the Houston Dynamo, a Major League Soccer franchise, to be tenants in a newly proposed state-of-the-art 22,000-seat stadium.

This would, at long last, end TSU’s nomatic home schedules split between the University of Houston, Rice and various regional fields. When arrangements couldn’t be made (as in 2006), Texas Southern was forced back to small, sad, desperately outdated Durley.

McClelland said the school would put up a one-time payment for use of this new facility, perhaps as much as $2.5 million in an $80 million project. Houston officials have already purchased land downtown to be used as a stadium site.

Late last year, Harris County commissioners El Franco Lee and Sylvia Garcia agreed to contribute $10 million in public money — but with a series of stipulations, including a use-agreement for Texas Southern football.

This is a critical piece for TSU, as it seeks to regain the luster it once held in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Durley simply isn’t suitable for Division I football. Heck, it’s not suitable for Class 2A high school football in Louisiana.

I made a sweeping announcement, upon exiting the end-zone tents set up for the media — yes, tents and, yes, in the end zone — at Durley almost three years ago: I’m never, ever coming back here again. Now, it looks like no other unfortunate soul will have to, either.

So long, and good riddance.


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