AUSTIN, Texas - Thursday, the University of Texas at Austin finalized a deal to build a new $338 million basketball arena on campus. In a slam dunk move for Longhorns and the City of Austin, none of that money will be put up by the university or the public.
University leaders said the new arena will be built in the parking lot just south of the Mike A. Myers stadium on Red River Street. It will replace the 41-year-old Frank Erwin Center which will eventually be torn down for a future expansion of the Dell Medical School.
"It's a truly innovative agreement, that brings together multiple world class organizations and brands, to create one of the best college basketball arenas in the nation and a state-of-the-art venue for the City of Austin," said UT Austin President Greg Fenves.
The venue will feature about 10,000 seats for basketball games, but can be expanded to 15,000 for concerts and shows. “I think having 10,000 seats is going to make it feel much more of a home court advantage. I think there'll be more energy in the building. Anytime you have a situation where all, or almost all of the seats, are filled, it creates a more hostile environment for your opponent and it creates more energy for your players,” said UT head men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart.
UT officials were able to build the arena without putting up any money of their own, thanks to an assist by Los Angeles company Oak View Group who will build and manage the facility.
“It's going to be an amazing facility, not just for the university, not just for the students, not just for the alumni, not just for the athletes, for this city,” said Tim Leiweke, chief executive officer of OVG.
The deal outlines UT will get to keep the money from concessions for sixty days of the year, while OVG will get that money the other 305 days of the year.
After ten years, the agreement will be updated to share more of the revenue with UT.
C3 Presents will help bring music events to the stadium. While famous actor and UT alumni Matthew McConaughey has been involved in design plans and negotiations.
“When we'd be negotiating, we'd be arguing, we'd reach a settlement, we'd look to Matthew going, ‘What do you think?’ And then all you hear from him, ‘Alright, alright, alright,’” said Leiweke. In fact, McConaughey will serve as the arena’s minister of culture, a title UT leaders said he gave himself.
Construction on the arena is expected to begin next summer with a planned completion date of 2021.