The Longhorns’ near-unstoppable athletic expansion continued Friday when details began to emerge about a new basketball and rowing practice facility.
Texas officials knew they’d have to carve out a spot for the men’s and women’s basketball teams to practice. Cooley Pavilion, like the Erwin Center, will eventually be demolished to make way for Dell Medical School expansion.
The UT System Board of Regents is set to approve construction of a three-story facility costing $60 million financed through long-term bonds. The project measures 75,200 square feet and will sit adjacent to the new Moody Center currently under construction.
The details were posted Friday in the UT regents’ agenda book. The regents are scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday.
Athletic director Chris Del Conte declined to comment Friday. He typically does not comment on athletic issues going before the UT regents.
Del Conte did show an artist rendering of what the exterior could look like at the Texas Athletics Town Hall forum earlier this month.
For months, neither men’s coach Shaka Smart nor women’s coach Karen Aston knew where they’d be practicing. Schools officials were gung-ho on getting a new arena off the ground. As for where UT would practice, that issue would be sorted out down the road, coaches were told.
UT President Gregory L. Fenves orchestrated a deal with the California-based Oak View Group to build the $338-million Moody Center. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in December, and construction is well underway.
Oak View Group, a private company, has agreed to build and manage the arena at its own cost, although UT owns the land underneath it. Ownership of the building would revert to UT at the end of the 35-year partnership.
The major benefit of Cooley Pavilion is its location. The building sits just south of the Erwin Center and the two are connected by a tunnel.
This new practice facility would have similar proximity to the Moody Center, although Texas’ teams can’t likely practice in the new arena whenever it’s available.
This new facility also represents a major commitment to the UT rowing program, which finished second nationally last year.
“The three-story facility will include basketball courts, rooms for rowing ergometers, strength and conditioning, sports medicine, players’ lounges, meeting rooms, and coach and staff offices,” according to the UT regents agenda.
“Also included in the project will be the interior finish-out of space in the Moody Center for locker rooms for the men, women, and visiting basketball teams, as well as retail store spaces,” the description continued.
The new practice facility is scheduled to be completed by June 2022. The Moody Center is scheduled to open for the 2022-23 season.
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