Berry Center

The Berry Center in Cy-Fair has evolved from a venue largely used by Cy-Fair ISD to one of the premier events venues in Houston.

The Berry Center in Cy-Fair has evolved from a venue largely used by Cy-Fair ISD to one of the premier events venues in Houston.

In the 11 years since it was built, Cy-Fair ISD’s Berry Center has gone from an events venue used largely by the school district to a full-fledged community institution.

“Anything they do at the Toyota Center, NRG Stadium or the Hobby Center, we do here,” said Beth Wade, who has served as the center’s executive director since it opened.

The venue was conceptualized and built in 2005 when administrators at CFISD decided to invest in a place where they could host staff-development programs, graduations and other district events. At the time, CFISD was hosting graduations at Reliant Stadium, which cost nearly $80,000 each year and required parents to pay $8 for parking to attend.

Berry CenterThe center is composed of four major components: a 500-seat theater, a 1,500-seat conference center, an 11,000-seat stadium and an 8,300-seat arena.

Although it is open to a variety of clients, CFISD is considered its priority client in the same way the Houston Texans football team is considered the primary client of NRG Stadium, Wade said. In addition to graduations, the district uses the venue for homecomings, proms, banquets and annual events, including JA Inspire, the CFISD Tech Fest and the Superintendent Fun Run.

The first nondistrict client to host an event at the center was Drum Corps International, which hosted a marching band contest. The group will be back for its 11th year this summer, Wade said.

Other major nondistrict clients include: KSBJ, a Christian radio station that uses the venue for concerts; Texwood Homes, which hosts the annual Cy-Fair Home and Garden Show; and Second Baptist Church, which has rented out the entire venue every Sunday for the past seven years.

Second Baptist, which  is opening its own church in late 2016 near Hwy. 290 and the Grand Parkway, plans to stop using the Berry Center at that point.

“We’re going to miss them,” Wade said. “However, having Sundays open again will open up some opportunities for us. We’ve had people reach out to us in the past inquiring about weekend-long events, but we have not been able to accommodate them because we were always fully booked on Sundays. We’ll be able to go back and accommodate some of those requests now.”

During its seven-year stint at the Berry Center, Second Baptist became the second-largest client after the school district. One of the more exceptional elements about the Berry Center—the fact that it has its own in-house sound and lighting equipment—came from an effort to meet the church’s needs, Wade said.

“When they first starting using space here, they had to bring in their own equipment each week and hire people to help set things up and take things down after each service,” Wade said. “We went to the [CFISD] board of trustees with a plan to bring in our own equipment that all of our clients could have access to. That’s one thing we do that no other venue around here does that I’m aware of.”

The district used the Berry Center to host a major statewide wrestling tournament in February and hopes to bring in a regional basketball tournament in 2017. Having a venue like the Berry Center at its disposal was a huge benefit for CFISD in garnering consideration from the University Interscholastic League for these events, Associate Athletic Director Ray Zepeda said. By providing a place to host statewide events, the Berry Center can also be seen as a major economic boost to the area, he said.

“We [had] families from all over the state [who came] to the event,” he said. “We have a lot of people staying at hotels, eating at restaurants and availing themselves to our local businesses.”

Businesses and restaurants along Barker-Cypress Road, where the Berry Center is located, pay close attention to when major events are scheduled, Berry Center Executive Director Brent Buchanan said.

“They know they can expect a lot more business during those weekends,” he said.

However, bringing money into the Cy-Fair community is more of an ancillary benefit on top of the main value the Berry Center offers, Wade said.

“It’s not about the money; it’s about the experience,” she said. “It’s about having a place in our community where parents can take their children to see a play and get them home by bedtime. It’s about giving students the chance to get their prom and homecoming experiences at a place where everything will be taken care of in a professional manner. That’s what we strive to provide.”

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


Cy-Fair ISD is planning to offer a virtual learning program for the 2021-22 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Cy-Fair ISD proposes virtual learning program for 2021-22 pending legislative approval

District officials said the proposed Cy-Fair ISD Virtual School will launch in 2021-22, pending the approval of certain legislation.

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
FDA expands Pfizer vaccine authorization to children ages 12 to 15 years old

This is the first time people under the age of 16 have been granted access to a coronavirus vaccine.

The deadline is May 17 for residents to protest their appraised property values set by the Harris County Appraisal District earlier this year, and officials are encouraging protesters to take online options into account. (Courtesy Pexels)
Harris County residents have until May 17 to protest property values

High demand for residential properties along with a shrinking inventory of homes translated into a roughly 8%-10% increase in residential values on average across the county this year

Jess and Shannon Bonneau and Lucy and Travis Lamberton plan to open Lambeau's Sports Bar & Grill this summer. (Courtesy Lambeau's Sports Bar & Grill)
Local families partnering to bring Lambeau’s Sports Bar & Grill to Cypress

Two local couples plan to open a new sports bar in mid-July at the former location of Masones Pub & Grill.

Michelle Esposito owns and operates My Skin by Michelle. (Courtesy My Skin by Michelle)
My Skin by Michelle now open in Cypress

Michelle Esposito said she has more than 20 years of experience as an esthetician and offers customized facials at her new studio.

Cy-Fair ISD recently added 266 propane buses to its total fleet. Funded by the 2019 bond package, the buses account for approximately 30% of the district’s total fleet and provide cleaner emissions. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Cy-Fair ISD's 2019 bond program funds new propane buses to replace diesel vehicles

Propane buses now account for about 30% of the district's entire fleet.

ExxonMobil moved employees from its Springwoods Village campus to a Hughes Landing to cure a default on a Montgomery County tax abatement. (Courtesy ExxonMobil)
ExxonMobil resolves tax abatement default; Home Depot distribution center taking over superfund site; and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic college in Houston. It also has a microcampus in downtown Conroe. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of St. Thomas offering free tuition to first 500 students who apply

The online degrees are in the following fields: cybersecurity, network technology, electronic technology, general business, and alcohol and drug dependency counseling.

Founded by Jennifer Park in 2019, Moving Waters aims to improve the quality of life for homeless individuals across the Greater Houston area by providing mobile shower and hygiene stations through partnerships with other assistance organizations. (Courtesy Moving Waters)
Moving Waters to bring weekly mobile showers, hygiene stations to Northwest Assistance Ministries beginning May 10

Beginning May 10, mobile showers and hygiene stations will be available to those in need every Monday at Northwest Assistance Ministries, through a new partnership with Houston-based nonprofit Moving Waters.

Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 has begun construction on the first of three phases for its new 43-acre, state-of-the-art campus located in Spring, according to a May 7 news release. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 begins construction on new 43-acre campus

The campus will house ESD No. 11's new ambulance service, which is scheduled to launch Sept. 4 when the district's contract with current service provider, Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, expires.

King and his team constructed the Ringing Singing Tree, a 17-foot-tall, 20-ton wind powered sound sculpture, in 2015. The project is on display outside of Austin. (Courtesy JK Welding)
Cypress-based JK Welding takes on unique, challenging projects

Motorists might recognize the FM 529 facility by the large projects that can be seen from the street, which have included an oil derrick, a pirate ship and a massive wind chime.