UT Regents Approve Arena Proposal To Replace Frank Erwin Center

Dec 20, 2018

The University of Texas Board of Regents on Thursday officially approved a new arena for UT Austin. The new building will replace the 41-year-old Frank Erwin Center. 

Regents also named Matthew McConaughey the "Minister of Culture" for the arena.

UT said it will have the new arena up and running by 2021 without bearing much of the cost, thanks to an agreement with the Oak View Group.

Arenas that have partnerships the Oak View Group.
Credit Oak View Group

Oak View is no stranger to the arena business. It has partnerships with some of the most famous arenas in the country, including New York’s Madison Square Garden, Dallas’ American Airlines Center and San Antonio’s AT&T Center.

The company will build and operate the $338 million arena at little cost to UT. The university will effectively lend the 6 acres southeast of the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and directly south of the Mike A. Myers Stadium and Soccer Field to Oak View. That land is currently one of the last surface parking lots available to students.

An artist's rendering of the interior of the arena, which will be used for UT basketball games, concerts and other events.
Credit Courtesy of UT/Gensler

Oak View would manage and book events for the venue and lend the arena back for basketball games, graduations and other university events. The university would be responsible for costs specific to those events, like security. Oak View would get all arena revenue generated in the first decade of the agreement. After that, UT would share revenue.

The arena will have different configurations, seating around 10,000 for basketball and as many as 17,000 spectators for concerts. UT said it is planning for it to open for the 2021-22 men's and women's basketball seasons.

The Frank Erwin Center opened in 1977. UT plans to raze the arena to expand its medical school.
Credit Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

The Erwin Center will be razed and the land will be used to expand UT’s Dell Medical School. Its namesake, Frank C. Erwin, sat on the Board of Regents for 12 years, serving as chair from 1966 to 1971.

UT Austin President Greg Fenves said it was a priority for the university to replace the aging Erwin Center.

"The Erwin Center is 40 years old," he said. "We’ve had a lot of games there, a lot of events, but it’s not really a modern concert arena, and it has some problems as a basketball arena and, of course, the site is going to be needed for the future expansion of Dell Medical School."

Oak View CEO Tim Leiweke said McConaughey would have an active role “ensuring that Longhorn and Austin cultures are front and center.”

"I think for the city, and for the university, you can’t have a better Minister of Culture, because he’s going to keep our feet to the fire and make sure this is one of the best venues in all the world," he said.

“It’s time to raise the bar,” McConaughey said in a statement. “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.”