The evolution of in-person entertainment in the wake of an ongoing pandemic has demanded the need for developing more creative ways to experience concerts, showcases, and other live performances for Austinites and spectators everywhere. In the midst of this turning point, a world-class destination built specifically for music and its future within the city limits is set to rise.
Moody Center, which will be located near the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center (scheduled to be demolished), is slated to open to the public in April 2022. The arena — a $338 million project — promises a reimagined concert experience enhanced by immersive seating, communal layouts, and luxurious amenities that emphasize the quirky grandeur and authenticity of the Live Music Capital of the World.
The forthcoming venue is privately financed by project partners Oak View Group, Live Nation Entertainment/C3 Presents (the biz behind Austin City Limits Music Festival), the University of Texas at Austin, Dell Technologies, and beloved Austinite and star Matthew McConaughey. Noteworthy details of the new build include a sprawling 530,000-square-foot layout, 15,000 seats, 44 suites and porch suites, four premium club spaces, and 2,000 club seats to accommodate a variety of event sizes and audience demographics. McConaughey is also overseeing the project personally as part of his role as Minister of Culture at UT, and says the city and campus are due for an innovative change.
“The whole world is right here in Austin,” McConaughey says. “Everything you’d want is right here in this city right now. Here’s the chance to have a great top 10 music venue — and Austin needs one. This is a venue that Austin is primed for.”
Although a part of the 40-acre UT campus, Moody Center is shedding the casual co-ed notions of the Erwin Center’s 42-year-long history for something more polished. McConaughey says the new arena design was inspired by the necessity to host a basketball game one night and a chart-topping musical group the next. With the introduction of an indoor/outdoor layout and engineering influenced by the flow and communal culture that makes Austin, Austin, McConaughey believes Moody Center will more than meet the test.
“The drum [design] served us well but it’s time to turn the page,” he says. “I wanted to make sure it was a communal area [for the students] that feels like you’re still on campus. But when you’ve got big bands there, you’re not going to feel like you’re on a school campus.”
The new arena also aligns with the goal of attracting different echelons of visitors, as made evident by the inclusion of sideline suites, porch suites with “yards,” and four unique premium club spaces exclusively for use by club seat and suite holders. According to McConaughey, the suites were designed with the sole purpose of providing “more noise and more live experience for both the player and for the viewer” with the help of luxurious additions and Austin-influenced ambiance.
Design elements for the premium club spaces include a speakeasy-inspired area, interactive technologies funded by Dell, a Hill Country-esque aesthetic, and an area modeled after the old oak lounges of the Southwest for swanky dinner and nightcap settings. Suite holders will also enjoy exclusive access to centrally located bars and an opportunity to mingle with other concertgoers thanks to a barrier-free design that encourages a more shared community experience.
Perhaps the biggest draw of the new venue: the 2,000 club seats that offer concertgoers an exclusive chance to enjoy shows from arguably the best vantage point in the house. While the seats themselves tout exclusivity, they can be reserved via concert club memberships, which are open to the public for purchase. In addition to a host of perks, including VIP parking, access to exclusive entrances, and curated culinary experiences, club members will receive first right of refusal to purchase tickets to all their favorite shows. Membership elevates the traditional concert experience while still offering locals first dibs to attend the city’s biggest performances and showcases.
Ultimately, the arena is a promising glimpse into the successful and enduring future of Austin’s live music scene. McConaughey believes the project will not only position Austin as a leading concert destination, but will also help solidify the iconic building as a top-tier venue for the world’s biggest stars in music, sports, and more.
As live music reawakens and artists begin to retake the stages of iconic venues across the city, the landscape of Austin’s entertainment scene is on the precipice of a new era, and Moody Center is undoubtedly slated to become king of the hill.
Moody Center is scheduled to open to the public in April 2022. For more information on development and concert club memberships, visit moodycenteratx.com.