On Thursday, the Texans and YMCA of Greater Houston broke ground for the new Houston Texans YMCA, located at the corner of Griggs Rd. and Martin Luther King Blvd. in Houston's historic Third Ward community. Scheduled to open in 2010, the new facility is the first YMCA facility in the country to be named after a professional sports team.
Several key leaders in the Houston community were at the event, including Texans owner Bob McNair and his wife, Janice, Texans president Jamey Rootes, Houston mayor Bill White, Dr. Larry Faulkner of the Houston Endowment and several YMCA board members.
"The YMCA has been a part of my life for many years," Bob McNair said. "I grew up in North Carolina… and as a 7-10 year old, I would ride my bicycle to downtown Charlotte to the YMCA for all of the activities, and that was my life. I remember those events to this very day.
"As I think about this new 'Y' here, I look forward to the time that many of the children who are 7-10 years old now will be coming down to this YMCA as adults and look back on it and say, 'That was such a wonderful experience for me, such a memorable experience and such a good influence on me and my life.'"
The partnership between the Texans and the YCMA combines two powerful and influential names to benefit the Greater Third Ward community by providing programs including health and wellness, child care, recreation and youth development.
The new facility is replacing the South Central YMCA, which was founded by Quentin Mease, an influential figure in the Houston community for many years. The new building will incorporate an outdoor pool with a spray park, gymnasium, health and wellness center, sports fields, multi-purpose rooms for education and life skills training and meeting rooms.
"The YMCA plays a critical function in the social safety net of this community, with our seniors, with our young people," White said. "This is a 'Y' that so many young people, of so many ages, for so long, have gotten their introduction to things that will life them a lifetime."
Developers envision the Houston Texans YMCA becoming a positive gathering place for the Third Ward Community. In addition to being located a mere six miles from Reliant Stadium, the facility will be in close proximity to Third Ward schools, a library, a city bus stop, a new housing development and a new light rail route.
The new facility is the first and most visible result of a larger partnership between the Texans and the YMCA. With the Texans' stated goal of being the most community-connected professional sports franchise in the world, the team has selected the YMCA as its primary strategic community partner and will work with YMCA staff to develop programming to benefit the children and the community served by the facility.
"(The Texans) are interested in the community, we're interested in the children, and we want to have a healthy, safe environment for them," McNair said. "We believe that life is all about being physically fit, mentally fit and spiritually fit, and the YMCA (fosters) all of those things and does so in a wonderful way."