The University of Texas will break ground in the coming months on a new basketball arena to replace the Erwin Center. The venue will feature a capacity of 15,000 and will host basketball games, graduations and concerts at UT for years to come.
And as of today, it has a name.
UT announced Saturday that the arena will be called the Moody Center in honor of a $130 million gift from the Moody Foundation, a Galveston-based charitable group that is also the namesake of UT’s Moody College of Communications.
“There is no more fitting Texas name for a world class arena in the heart of our campus than ‘Moody,’ ” said UT President Gregory L. Fenves.
This is the largest gift the foundation has ever given to an organization and represents one of the largest gifts to UT.
“We’re fortunate to have the name on both buildings,“ said Ross Moody, a foundation trustee and UT alum. ”It’s good for the University of Texas to have a Texan family to be a proponent of University of Texas interests.“
The arena is being developed on UT-owned land just south of the Mike A. Myers soccer and track stadium by the university and private-sector team called Arena Co., which will be led by Los Angeles-based Oak View Group and include actor-turned-UT-professor Mathew McConaughey serving as “minister of culture” for the arena.
The partnership represents an innovative funding approach that will cost nothing to taxpayers, UT said. ArenaCo will put up $338 million to build and operate the venue. After construction is complete, UT will own the arena and have control of it for about 60 days a year for men’s and women’s basketball games, graduations and other school-related functions.
All other days, Oak View Group will run the venue, bringing concerts and other attractions to Austin. The private company will collect all revenue generated by the arena for 10 years, after which the university will get a cut.
The contract is still in negotiation, Fenves told the American-Statesman, and is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. The recent $130 million donation could affect how much revenue the university receives from the arena and how soon it receives it.
“We are deeply grateful to the Moody Foundation for this gift,” Fenves said. “Their vision and generosity will help us create one of the country’s best college arenas with a much more exciting environment for our basketball players and fans, and at the same time it will be a first-class concert and events venue for the Austin community.”
UT Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said there was “significant interest” in snagging the naming rights of the facility, but the university wanted someone who is known throughout Texas and already has a strong track record in Austin.
In the past, the Moody Foundation has donated to health care, nature preservation and community organizations. So far this year, the foundation has donated $20 million to the Blanton Museum of Art, $266,500 to the Austin Community Foundation for the Capital Area and $100,000 the YMCA of Greater Austin.
“They’re a longstanding Texas family; they’ve been here forever,” Del Conte said of the Moody family. “Their incredible gift to this institution is amazing, and I think it’s a perfect place to welcome thousands and thousands of fans in that arena, where they’ll get a chance to know who they are and leave a living legacy.”
Moody sees it as an opportunity to invest in something that benefits his alma mater as well as the city at large.
“I love basketball, but this wasn’t just about basketball,” Moody told the Statesman. “The multipurpose nature of this building is what interested us, mostly. UT is fantastic — we love UT — but the city of Austin is also going to have access to it.”
The university expects to break ground on the project in the next few months, with a completion date set for 2022. The Erwin Center will be razed to make way for the expansion of the nearby Dell Medical School.
Staff writer Brian Davis contributed to this report.