UT Austin hooks $130 million grant to replace Frank Erwin Center with snazzy new arena
The University of Texas at Austin just scored one of the biggest private donations in college history — and the city is getting a new landmark. On November 10, the Moody Foundation announced it is bestowing a $130 million grant on UT to help fund a new basketball and performance arena. The newly minted Moody Center will take the place of the Frank Erwin Center when in makes its debut in 2022.
According to a joint release from UT and the Moody Foundation, the grant is "among the largest gifts ever made to any university for a new arena." The newly minted Moody Center will host UT men's and women's basketball games during which the arena will hold 10,000 attendees. For non-basketball game events, the center will add 5,000 more seats to accommodate concerts, graduations, and other events.
“When the Moody Center opens, it will be the finest college basketball arena in the country, hands down, as well as an unbelievable concert and entertainment venue for the entire city of Austin,” said VP and director of athletics Chris Del Conte in a release.
UT first announced plans to replace the Erwin Center in 2017. In December 2018, UT's Board of Regents approved the plan, which includes construction of a $338 million arena just south of the Mike A. Myers Stadium, the soccer field next to DKR Stadium. During that vote, UT said it would use no university or public funds for the arena, instead relying entirely on private donations like the $130 million Moody grant.
This of course means the rotund Erwin Center, occasionally referred to as The Drum, will be no more. The 42-year-old building will be demolished to allow for expansion of the Dell Medical School next-door.
“The Moody Center signals a new era for UT and Austin, providing fans and citizens the world-class experience they deserve in the world-class city we call home,” said Ross Moody, trustee of the Moody Foundation and chairman and CEO of National Western Life Group.
The Moody name isn't exactly new to the UT campus, or Austin for that matter. In 2013, the foundation donated $50 million to support the Moody College of Communication. And earlier this year, it donated $20 million to fund a new pavilion at the Blanton Museum of Art — a structure that will serve as the capstone of downtown Austin's Texas Capitol Complex Master Plan, and brings the Moody Foundation's donations to UT to more than $200 million. In recent years, the Galveston-based organization has also donated millions to both the Barton Springs and Pease Park conservancies.
"There is no more fitting Texas name for a world-class arena in the heart of our campus than ‘Moody,’” said President Gregory L. Fenves. “This will be a state-of-the-art events center that will serve Texas’ student-athletes and benefit the entire Austin community."