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gclass

FIRST LOOK: new $338mm university of texas world class arena - coming soon

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The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday authorized the flagship campus in Austin to partner with a private-sector team led by Oak View Group LLC, and including Austin-based actor Matthew McConaughey, to build and operate a $338 million basketball and multipurpose arena.

The arena, to be constructed at what is now a parking lot just south of Mike A. Myers Track Stadium and Soccer Field, will replace the Erwin Center, which will be torn down to accommodate expansion of UT’s Dell Medical School.

UT and ArenaCo — which includes OVG, Live Nation, C3 Presents and McConaughey — are putting the finishing touches on a 35-year agreement. Los Angeles-based Oak View will lease 6.64 acres between Red River Street and Robert Dedman Drive for construction, and UT will own the arena once it’s completed.

School officials say they are not aware of another university with a similar arrangement. And it’s a cinch that no other venue will have Academy Award winner McConaughey as its “minister of culture,” a title he bestowed on himself as an investor in the venture, officials said.

University President Gregory L. Fenves said the arena will have 10,000 seats for basketball and up to 15,000 for concerts and other events.

 

“The new arena has been designed with UT student-athletes and Longhorn fans in mind,” Fenves said. “It will be more accessible to residence halls and to the many students living on or near campus. The interior will allow for closer-in, enthusiastic crowds and clearer views of the court.”

The extra seating capacity presumably will be walled off in some fashion so that the arena doesn’t look partially empty for basketball games. Asked how that would work, athletics director Chris Del Conte told the American-Statesman, “We’re just in preliminary stages. We’ll be getting into the nitty-gritty of how to do that now.”

McConaughey, a 1993 UT graduate, said in a statement, “It’s time for an authentic home court advantage for our Longhorn basketball teams. 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.”

UT will have control of the new arena for about 60 days a year to accommodate men’s and women’s basketball games, high school graduations and other school-related or community functions. During that time, the university will control concession prices and receive that revenue.

The Oak View team will be in charge of the facility for the rest of the time, recovering its investment from operating revenues, including concession prices it will set. After 10 years, UT will get a cut of those revenues. Oak View’s team will pay no rent for use of the building and land. UT and its private partners will collaborate when it comes to awarding naming rights.

Fenves said the public-private partnership amounts to a great deal for the university and avoids it or local taxpayers having to underwrite the capital costs. However, there could be costs to the university and the city of Austin for realigning Red River Street, which officials hope to do to straighten the road and create extra space for the project.

By having another party pay for the project, UT doesn’t have to issue bonds to underwrite construction and pay off the debt. That presumably will give the university more debt capacity for academic projects.

There is no doubt a political calculation to UT’s approach as well. The university’s funding request to the Legislature for the session that begins next month includes $100 million in bonds to renovate the J.T. Patterson Labs Building, home to the Department of Integrative Biology, one of UT’s most highly ranked programs.

 

Were the university to fund a new arena itself, lawmakers might ask why the school needs state money for the labs when it can afford hundreds of millions for an arena.

Construction of the new arena is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019, with completion coming in time for the 2021-22 basketball season.

UT officials at one point had suggested that the city of Austin help pay for a new arena. That notion proved a non-starter. Mayor Steve Adler praised the university’s arena plan.

“I think the university and the city government have a shared goal and interest in making sure the community is strong and wonderful, so I think that the idea that the university has come up with in order to have an arena that serves both the university and the community more generally is a good one,” Adler told the Statesman.

The Austin school district rented the Erwin Center at a $140,000 base fee to cover several days this year for graduations, according to a copy of the agreement that the Statesman obtained from the district. “In regard to the future privatization of the facility, that decision has not affected the district at this time,” district spokeswoman Cristina Nguyen said.

The Erwin Center, built in 1977, is one of the most active campus venues in the nation, the site of more than 200 events a year. Nicknamed “the Drum” because of its shape, the Erwin Center is operated by UT’s athletic department. The center is named for Frank C. Erwin Jr., a colorful and powerful figure who was chairman of the Board of Regents in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

UT’s medical district plan describes the Erwin Center as “outdated.” The plan calls for a new practice facility for basketball — replacing the Denton Cooley Pavilion, next to the Erwin Center — to be built at the northwest corner of Red River and Clyde Littlefield Drive. Replacing the practice facility is on hold for now, Del Conte said, noting that the pavilion was recently renovated.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Congratulations to UT Austin. She's a beaut.Real  addition to Austin. But when the Jayhawks come to town they'll own the arena. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU. 

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1 minute ago, Twinsanity02 said:

Congratulations to UT Austin. She's a beaut.Real  addition to Austin. But when the Jayhawks come to town they'll own the arena. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU. 

^^^ @twinsanity02 thank you my pal!  i appreciate KANSAS as well, wonderful people up there.

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32 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

only 10,000 seats for basketball?

^^^ i absolutely concur.  for several years now, the powers that be, have been craving a much smaller and more intimate arena for basketball.  it is often times stated that "the erwin center is much to cavernous for basketball games and that the site lines are terrible".  oh well, (there's always going to be a bit of give and take) upon these huge capital projects.  i am just very happy that the arena shall be able to expand to 15,000 for multipurpose events.  most of the prospective technology heading into this new arena is going to be amazing.  what a gorgeous place... 

Edited by gclass

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33 minutes ago, Houston19514 said:

only 10,000 seats for basketball?

It's still only UT basketball, not UK or Duke

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5 minutes ago, cspwal said:

It's still only UT basketball, not UK or Duke

That may be the reason. If so, they may shrink my alma mater's football stadium to 5,000 or less. I hope not.

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