Academy of Country Music honors Austin's Moody Center as Arena of the Year
The accolades keep rolling in for Austin's Moody Center, the biggest entertainment venue in city. After just over a year in business, the arena has garnered praise from Pollstar as "Best New Concert Venue," a partnership with the University of Texas conference center, and a gross revenue beyond that of any other venue of its size.
Now the laurels come from the Academy of Country Music, host of the ACM Awards and arbiter of good country taste for nearly 60 years. The 58th annual awards included a category for "Arena of the Year," which Moody Center won despite the best efforts of nominees in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Estero, Florida; Little Rock, Arkansas; Knoxville, Tennessee; and even Fort Worth, Texas (Dickies Arena).
Moody Center carried Austin as the city's only nominee in any category, which also included venues like casinos and amphitheaters. Gruene Hall, a historic venue in New Braunfels, was nominated for the "Club of the Year" category, but ultimately lost to Joe's on Weed St. in Chicago.
The Austin arena doesn't appear to be a staunch country venue at a glance, and it's true that it has much more to offer than just one genre. The calendar leans toward classic rock and pop stars revisiting their prime, as well as a few major contemporary pop stars here and there (hello, Mr. Styles). These are generally the artists, though, who can fill arenas, no matter the city.
As far as country bookings go, they're more of the same; booking Chris Stapleton (October 21, 2023) is good business no matter what kind of crowds you hope to draw. The venue does stand out, however, for its Tejano bookings — an unlikely scene in many arenas on a national scale, and arguably a part of the country canon.
Moody Center also made country history in hosting the Country Music Television Awards for the first time this April. CMT is based in Nashville, and the award ceremony never left the city until arriving in Austin in its 56th year.
The venue is positioning itself as a cultural institution beyond the stage, too. It recently announced behind-the-scenes tours that support local nonprofits, and "Tempo," a venue-wide "art walk" for appreciating its various murals and similar hidden nooks and crannies.
The announcement from ACM included winners from the Industry and Studio Recording Awards. Alongside all the venues honored were recording artists, engineers, producers, promoters, and more.
More information about the ACM Awards is available at acmcountry.com.