Bud Kennedy

For TCU, a new arena name is about the spirit of two

Ed Schollmaier poses with members of the women’s basketball team following Thursday’s press conference to announce the new name of the basketball arena.
Ed Schollmaier poses with members of the women’s basketball team following Thursday’s press conference to announce the new name of the basketball arena. Special to the S-T

Ed and Rae Schollmaier made it look easy.

Having shared operas, concerts and TCU basketball games for 45 years, they now share the name of the Frogs’ remodeled gym.

The Fort Worth couple gave $10 million to launch the campaign for Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, an obvious name that also marks an incidental change in philanthropic giving.

How many major sports arena names — or public facilities in general — include both spouses?

How many women anywhere are honored in major stadium or arena names?

With a stroke of a pen — OK, maybe two — the former Alcon Laboratories eye care executive and his wife, a determined campaigner for arts and education causes, helped TCU’s men’s and women’s teams upgrade to a $72 million coliseum.

By all accounts, the Schollmaiers simply wanted to share the support. Ed Schollmaier has been quoted saying they’ve shared “300 operas and 1,000 basketball games — I don’t love opera as much as Rae does, and she doesn’t love basketball as much as I do.”

Perhaps since the 1998 opening of the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall, we’ve seen more shared names and more representation for women.

“More and more, the people who are giving gifts want to make it clear this was a joint decision and that it was part of family life or their life together,” said Melissa Berman, president and CEO of New York-based Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

“Sports arenas used to be named for somebody who had passed away, recognizing achievement — maybe a beloved coach or great athlete. Now, donors want to show support.”

At TCU, the old Daniel-Meyer Coliseum was built in 1961. Former football captain, lawyer and board chairman Milton E. Daniel left TCU $7 million when he died in 1958, and former championship football coach L.R. “Dutch” Meyer was near retirement as athletic director.

(Their names remain in a new overall label for TCU sports facilities, the Daniel-Meyer Athletic Complex.)

Schollmaier Arena might be the most prominent local arena to include a woman’s name, but it’s not the first. TCU has the Charlie and Marie Lupton Baseball Stadium, the Jane Justin Field House for soccer and the Robert and Maria Lowden Track and Field Complex.

At UT Arlington’s new College Park Center, the floor is named Petsche Court for donors Alan and Bonnie Smith Petsche.

From a quick look at the TCU campus map, tributes including both spouses go as far back as maybe 1971 and the first Solomon and Etta P. Brachman Hall coed classroom-dorm building. TCU now has more than 20 facilities named for couples.

“The move of women into more public roles, both in the workplace and the public sector, has been part of that,” Berman said.

“People think of marriage as more of a partnership than they did up to the mid-20th century.”

Even when one spouse’s career is the primary source of wealth, more couples want to be remembered together, she said.

“People have begun to realize that a life well-lived includes philanthropic giving,” she said, “and it’s something they want to do as a couple or family.”

Basketball is all about going for two.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538

Twitter: @BudKennedy