Austin (Travis County) – The University of Texas-Austin wants a “developer/operator” that will substantially finance and construct a new basketball arena and basketball training facility.

A Request for Qualifications issued earlier this month specifies that the new facility will replace Frank Erwin Center as the host site for Texas Longhorns men’s and women’s basketball games. Erwin Center seats more than 16,500 spectators.

“The Frank C. Erwin Jr. Special Events Center … and the Denton A. Cooley Pavilion will be replaced with a new arena to host university men’s and women’s home basketball games and a new basketball training facility. The University is considering options for funding, developing, and operating the New Arena Project, including possible leasing, operation, and management by a private business enterprise.”

The new arena and practice facility will be exclusively used for university functions and exclusively operated as a public facility “for the benefit of the University in serving the public,” the RFQ states.

See VBX Project ID 2016-3708 for all the RFQ details.


The Frank Erwin Center. Photo courtesy: Google Maps.

The RFQ makes clear that the university expects a first-class facility. Factors mentioned that will drive the UT-Austin selection team’s decision include:

  • Recruiting and retaining the most talented student athletes.
  • Attracting and retaining the best coaches and staff.
  • Providing state-of-the-art academic support, strength and conditioning, and sports medicine facilities as well as student-athlete amenity area.
  • Emphasizing the achievement and overall well-being of student-athletes.

Two site options are being looked at on campus for the new facility. The preferred option is south of the Mike A. Myers Stadium between Red River Street and Robert Dedman Drive on Lot 70. The second option, referred to as the “Creek Site,” is south of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, on a tract bounded by Dedman Drive, San Jacinto Boulevard, and East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

UT has had a concept for the New Arena Project. It was introduced in the 2016 UT Austin Texas Athletics Master Plan. It must adhere to “best practices” for top-tier Division 1 collegiate arenas and practice facilities.

“The Texas Athletics brand is integrated throughout the design … this will create a sense of energy and ‘branding’ that speaks specifically to the character, traditions, and history of the Men’s and Women’s Basketball programs. The new arena has been conceptually designed to provide a ‘home court advantage’ … as well as flexibility in seating arrangements based on anticipated attendance for any particular event.”

Developer/Operator minimum qualification requirements include experience developing and/or operating first-in-class, multipurpose basketball arenas with a minimum cost range of between $350 million and $450 million. Also, the financial capability to contribute towards all or a substantial portion of the cost to develop and construct this facility.

This RFQ emphasizes that, “The Developer/Operator must provide assurances it can contribute a minimum of $350 million towards the cost to develop and construct the New Arena Project.”

The deadline for submittal of the RFQ responses is March 8, and a determination will most likely be made as to which are qualified proposers by March 30.

Qualified proposers will receive the Requests for Proposal. These proposals will be due June 18.

“The Qualified Proposer selected by the University … will be the (proposer) that submits a proposal that is the most advantageous to the University,” the RFQ states.

Each proposer is encouraged to propose terms and conditions offering the maximum benefit to UT in terms of:

  • Monetary contribution
  • Revenue sharing
  • Service
  • Total overall cost
  • Project management expertise

Post-proposal presentations are anticipated to occur in July and the selection of the preferred Developer/Operator is estimate to take place in September.