Toyota Center is an indoor arena located in downtown Houston, Texas. It is named after the Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota, the arena is home to the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association, the principal users of the building, and the former home of the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander first began to request a new arena in 1995, and attempted to release the Rockets from their lease at The Summit, however, he was denied by arena owner Chuck Watson, then-owner of the Aeros, who also wanted control of a new arena. The two sides agreed to control over an arena in a deal signed in 1997. It was not until the city and the Rockets signed an agreement in 2001, excluding the Aeros. Construction began in July 2001, and the new arena was opened in October 2003. The total costs were $235 million, with the city of Houston paying the majority, Toyota paid US$100 million for the naming rights. In May 1995, several Texas sports teams, including the Houston Rockets, as the negotiations continued into 1996, a panel appointed by Houston mayor Bob Lanier reported that building a new arena was essential to keep pro sports in Houston. After Watson rejected a contract buyout proposal of $30 million, the Rockets filed a challenge against their lease. After both parties agreed to the terms, a bill that increased taxes to pay for a new arena was signed into law in July. In January 1999, recently elected mayor Lee Brown guaranteed a referendum on the issue before the end of the year. After several months negotiating with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, the Rockets finalized a deal to pay half of the costs. The deal was approved by Brown and the Houston City Council, on November 3, the results of the referendum were announced, and the arena proposal was rejected by 54% of voters. Alexander said we never thought we would lose and that they were devastated by the loss, after the vote, NBA commissioner David Stern said if theres not a new building. I think its certain that the team will be relocated. Although the Rockets continued to negotiate with Louisville, Kentucky, a plan for the arena in Houston was released in June. A final agreement was proposed on July 6, and both the Rockets and mayor Brown agreed to the terms, after the city council approved the deal, the proposal was placed on the November referendum ballot. On November 8, the arena was approved by 66% of voters, morris Architects, designed the 750, 000-square-foot building, and Hunt Construction was contracted to build the arena. A building formerly owned by Houston Lighting and Power Company was demolished to make way for the arena, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 31,2001, and construction continued for 26 months
The interior of the arena during a Rockets game, prior to 2012.
Inside the Toyota Center, with the new scoreboard, 2013.