Feature Illustration (above): Conceptual rendering of the new UT-Austin arena. Courtesy: UT System.
Austin (Travis County) — The University of Texas System Board of Regents, during a special called meeting, authorized UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves to execute an agreement with a private development group for the construction of a new arena to replace the 41-year-old Frank C. Erwin Center.
As reported in VBX in February, UT-Austin issued an RFQ for a developer/operator to replace the campus basketball arena and the Denton A. Cooley Pavilion. The vetting process continued through the spring, summer and fall, but on Dec. 20 the regents gave the go-ahead to negotiate a contract with a development group consisting of the Los Angeles-based entertainment venue developer Oak View Group LLC (OVG), Live Nation, C3 Presents and actor/producer Matthew McConaughey–referred to collectively as ArenaCo.
The terms of the agreement include a 35-year ground lease, an estimated project cost of $338 million, and no financial contribution of university or public funds. However, UT-Austin may be responsible for infrastructure improvements to prepare the site for construction; in order to consolidate sufficient land, an early concept site plan suggests Robert Dedman Drive would need to be reconfigured to connect to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, instead of Red River Street.
The majority portion of the arena will be located on what is presently a surface parking lot (Lot 70) south of Mike A. Myers Stadium. The site plan would encompass 6.64 acres and lie between Red River Street and Robert Dedman Drive.
ArenaCo is expected to have the new arena ready by 2021. Conceptual renderings of the proposed arena were prepared by Gensler.
The planned location of the new arena is south of Myers Stadium and southeast of Texas Memorial Stadium. Courtesy: UT-Austin.
The Erwin Center site will be reserved for future expansion of the Dell Medical School.
In a prepared statement following the vote, Fenves said, “UT’s historic agreement with this highly regarded company will result in a modern arena on campus for our students, alumni, supporters and the Austin community. The arena will provide for an unforgettable UT basketball experience and represent the best of our university.”
The 10,000-seat arena will provide an intimate, state-of-the-art men’s and women’s Longhorn basketball fan experience and feature student seating surrounding the court. Much like how the Erwin Center currently operates, the new venue will be a prime location for university, campus, community and high school events.
Additionally, the new arena is designed to expand to 15,000 seats and will provide a world-class venue for touring concerts and shows.
“This is a truly wonderful opportunity for The University of Texas, our basketball programs and the City of Austin,” said UT Vice President and Athletics Director Chris Del Conte. “We’re building one of the nation’s finest arenas that will provide an awesome home court advantage for our men’s and women’s basketball programs.”
Interior concept illustration of the planned new UT Austin men’s and women’s basketball arena. Courtesy: Gensler.
Tim Leiweke, chief executive officer of OVG, said, “There are very few brands as dominant and as well-known as The University of Texas and Longhorns, and there are very few cities that are growing at the speed of Austin. This is a rare opportunity to be partners with one of the greatest academic institutions in the world, UT, and to be building a world-class arena for one of the world’s great emerging markets, Austin. We are grateful to President Fenves and Vice President and Athletics Director Del Conte and look forward to creating one of the best arenas in all of the world.”
C3 Presents is headquartered in Austin. Charles Attal, a company partner, said that as a native Austinite it is a dream opportunity to be involved with UT and a world class team to bring the project to life.
McConaughey, who also calls Austin home, will act as the “Minister of Culture” at the venue, ensuring that Longhorn and Austin cultures are front and center and helping create a fan experience unlike any other.
A Class of ’93 UT-Austin graduate, McConaughey said, ” It’s time to excel, on the court and in the stands. It’s time for an authentic home court advantage for our Longhorn basketball teams. It’s time for a choice experience for our fans. It’s time to be a preferred venue for headliners from across the globe. It’s time for quality, success, and victories for the Longhorns and for Austin. It’s time for the big show. It’s time. Hook ’em.”
Gensler architects’ depiction of the exterior pedestrian approaches to the new arena.
This report was edited in part from a University of Texas News article.