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The Erwin Center is finally coming down. Austinites are sharing their favorite memories.

Members of the media in reflective vests and hard hats follow a tour of the Frank Erwin demolition site with the remaining steel shell still in place in the background.
Michael Minasi
KUT News
Over the last seven months, demolition crews have slowly taken the Erwin Center apart piece by piece.

Long live the "Drum." Or is it the "Flan"? Or maybe the "Super Drum"? The Frank Erwin Center's long reign as the place in Austin for big concerts, graduations, circuses, monster trucks, wrestling, Disney on Ice and everything in between is finally coming to an end.

The former site of the Erwin Center on the UT Austin campus will become a sprawling medical complex, including an MD Anderson Cancer Center. Less than a mile north, the center's successor — the Moody Center — has taken on the mantle of Austin's premier concert venue.

We asked for your best memories at the Drum and you sent more than a thousand responses.

These responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Unforgettable times with loved ones

My sister [went to see] John Denver. She threw a rose with her name and address attached to it. Denver sent her a letter saying, “thank you for sharing nature with me.” — @eddanderson4 on Instagram

My dad took me to my first basketball game there. I couldn’t have been more than five. We were watching it on TV and he asked if I wanted to go. So simple, a college basketball game, but I was blown away. I could hardly believe he could take me somewhere I had just seen on TV! ... This place held many memories! — @courtneytakeitorliebich on Instagram

I proposed to my wife in the parking lot before The Georgia Satellites opened for Tom Petty, May 29ish, 1987. — @the_mimitworld on Instagram

I saved up in middle school to buy my mom a ticket to see Bonnie Raitt there. I had a friend of hers buy it for me since I couldn't drive. Her friend ended up buying my little sister and me tickets as well, so my mom didn't have to go alone. It was amazing! I was so proud to gift my single, hard-working mom something I knew she'd enjoy. It took quite a few hours of babysitting and the sort of random odd jobs you have to do when only 12 or 13 years old. It was totally worth it, though! — @3crazy_boyz on Instagram

My great-grandmammy's house sat square in the middle of where they built the Erwin Center. My papa was born and raised within sight of there, across I-35 up on East 14th, "Swede Hill." They met at the original Austin High on Rio [Grande Avenue], which is now Austin Community College. My fiancé and I met 18 years ago while both going to college at that same campus. — @ninjah_lightning on Instagram

Once-in-a-lifetime concert experiences

[I was a Texas] Shorthorn volunteer for the women’s basketball team, then usher, then house photographer. I still have all my press passes. Couldn’t name them all but it was a good run. I guess the most memorable moment was being backstage security for the Rock during a WWE event. I am only 5-foot-5 lol. — @texas_cactus on Instagram

I supervised ushers the first few years after it opened. Some of the most memorable concerts were Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Cars and Genesis. I remember Sting claiming Austin radio was the first to play “Roxanne” and thanked us for giving The Police the exposure they needed to get really discovered, worldwide. — @johnshumla on Instagram

In the '70s I was part of the security team, so I always had a front row seat to all the great concerts there. Oh wait, I was facing the wrong direction. Oops! — @rocco90046 on Instagram

My first concert at Frank Erwin Center was Eric Clapton, 1995. Best seats, 3rd row, center. Amazing. So much history. — @pirali on Instagram

A man in a construction vest and helmet looks at the remaining four columns of the Erwin Center shell.
Michael Minasi
KUT News
Crew are now in the final stage of the demolition process.

I saw Taylor Swift open for Gary Allan open for Rascal Flatts on the "Me & My Gang" tour and was one of the only people in our section who knew the words to her debut album. — @loudtallmorgan on Instagram

Born in Austin, 1984, and my parents met at UT. My first concert was there: MC Hammer with Boyz II Men. Saw Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, New Kids on the Block, U2, The Cure, ZZ Top and more Longhorn games than I could ever remember. — @_thesilverrider on Instagram

How about Prince on the "Purple Rain" tour 1984 with The Time and Sheila E. opening? You shoulda been there! — @777rosapantera on Instagram

1986 ... Metallica opening up for Ozzy. We were a tad late getting there and as we walked up, the doors were rattling like crazy. Such an epic concert! — @davintoruta on Instagram

I was driving limousines back in the late '80s and drove the band U2 from their private jet to the "Drum" and got to be backstage during the concert. Adam Clayton left his leather jacket in the limo after dropping the band at the Four Seasons Hotel. I returned it to him. — @uttxfan on Instagram

My first concert out of hundreds was there. I was in fourth grade and Huey Lewis and The News killed it that night!
🤙😂 1986 — @_metamurphoses_ on Instagram

It was 1984, I was in eighth grade and somehow convinced my parents to [let me] go see Judas Priest with my best friend Kevin. We actually sat on the floor. That was my very first concert and time at the Frank Erwin Center. ... One of the best concerts was the Pink Floyd "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" tour in 1987. I remember the outside being lit up Pink and a giant pig (from their Animals album) overlooking I-35. — Timothy Masters

Quintessential UT Austin experiences

[I remember] sitting at adds and drops [for UT classes] for three days. — @ckbroom68 on Instagram

I was reading through to see if anyone mentioned adds and drops! There was no computer registration — everything done in person. Such long lines, and running to tables to see if there was still an opening in the class, and running back by a little bit later to see if someone dropped and opened up a spot. But you saw everyone there so it was also a social moment! — @valtyler on Instagram

A Frank Erwin Center labelled basketball hoop in front of the demolition site.
Michael Minasi
KUT News
UT basketball games now take place less than a mile up the highway from the Erwin Center.

[Kevin] Durant beating [the Aggies] in two overtimes. Sitting center court with my dad. Great win and great night with my dad. — @ryan_s_76_ on Instagram

I have many, so many memories of the Erwin Center, most of which were attending concerts or working as an usher for three years. But the best one of all was graduating from UT and having my parents there to see it. It was the one and only time they were able to visit Austin from our hometown in El Paso. I was the only son of four boys to leave home for college, and the look of pride on their faces meant everything to me, and them. Pop passed away less than a year later, but that picture with my parents at the Drum is priceless. — Robert Martinez

Saying goodbye

The Frank Erwin Center holds a special place in the hearts of my family and me. Not only because my grandfather was the maintenance supervisor from 1977 to 1991, but also because we are nearly all UT alumni.

In 2020, our grandfather had fallen ill and we knew his time was coming. We had heard that the center was soon to be closing for good, so I reached out to the staff and asked if they had a spare seat they could part with, in the hopes of bolstering his spirits. They were all too happy to accommodate and sent him a pair of the burnt orange seats, which he absolutely loved.

He passed in late December of that year. The final, and most impactful, memory of the Frank Erwin Center came on April 16, 2022, when I was in Austin with my girlfriend visiting family. We were well aware of its imminent destruction and, feeling a bit nostalgic and on a whim, I suggested that we swing by and see if we could take one last walk around the place. Maybe bribe a security guard or find an unlocked door.

Surprisingly, my mother agreed and off we went. We soon reached our destination and as we drove closer we saw the doors wide open. "What luck!" I thought. ... We get to the open doors and walk inside and there are people and tables set up in the entrance. Strange. And instead of questioning us or shooing us away, they welcomed us in and told us, "Right this way. Down the escalator, please," as if we were expected. Double strange.

Upon entering the main floor, filled with people, tables and chairs, there it is, displayed on a big screen: "Frank Erwin Center: Farewell." I couldn't believe it. ... What were the odds that on the very day I get a wild hair for us to stop by that they'd be having the farewell event? Beyond serendipitous. Perhaps it was blind luck or perhaps it was Grandpa, urging us to go from the great beyond.

I took the opportunity to stand there on the court and closed my eyes. Being mindful of the place. How it smelled. How it felt. The weight of it. Upon opening my eyes, I gazed up at the rafters and catwalks where Grandpa used to work. At the multitude of empty seats that used to be occupied by countless attendees. What memories this place held for so many throughout the years! The laughs. The cheers. The emotions. What this place meant to so many. I wanted to take it all in, capture it, store it and be a part of it somehow. And for a moment, there on that court and surrounded by history, I did. — Brian Walters

Andy Jechow is the audience engagement editor for KUT News. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter at @AndyJechow.
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