The Erwin Center is home to the UT men’s and women’s basketball teams but also features graduations, concerts and other events. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman)

BEVO BEAT Men's Basketball

The history of the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Special Events Center

Posted May 16th, 2017

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In the spring of 2017, the University of Texas announced plans of a new athletic venue to house indoor sports such as men’s and women’s basketball in what was one of the early steps taken to replace the flan-shaped Frank C. Erwin Jr. Special Events Center.

The Erwin Center has been home to Longhorn hoops since 1977, but has also been used for circuses, professional wrestling events, Paul McCartney concerts, UFC fights and even a 2011 Davis Cup event.

But basketball has been its staple. The event center was home of the UIL High School State Basketball Championships, both boys and girls, until 2015. It’s where basketball Hall of Famer Jody Conradt won a majority of her 900 games, and its the only college home court Kevin Durant saw. The center has hosted NCAA basketball tournament rounds, regionals and the 1985 and 1986 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

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Located on the southeast corner of central campus near Interstate 35, the Erwin Center is named after Frank C. Erwin Jr., a former Texas board of regents member who pushed for more facilities and expansions during his time on the board.

The facility can hold 16,540 people, the largest in the Big 12, and features 28 luxury suites. The stadium can also be adjusted for certain events, like concerts, where the capacity can increase to 17,900 people.

Despite the number of marquee games by the basketball teams, the largest recorded crowd at the Erwin Center came in May of 1978 when John “Sunshine on My Shoulders” Denver played in Austin for the first time.

At the time of that concert, the facility was merely known as the “Special Events Center.” But in 1980, the university renamed it to its current name, which is often shortened and commonly known as “The Erwin Center.”

However, the days of the Erwin Center are numbered. The facility will be demolished to make room for the Dell Medical School expansion. When it will be demolished is another question. The new arena that will house the basketball teams will be built on the Mike Myers Stadium parking lot. Details of that stadium are still being worked out.

Some estimate at least another four years until that new arena is open, and whether the Erwin Center would be demolished before then is another issue. Until then, the Big 12’s largest basketball arena will be home to the Longhorns.

 

 

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