Texas Approves Snazzy $300 Million Basketball, Entertainment Venue In The Heart Of Austin

The drum won't beat too much longer in Austin, Texas, as new digs will be built for the University of Texas basketball teams and state-of-the-art entertainment in the self-proclaimed "Live Music Capital of the World." And its minister of culture is quite "alright."

The University of Texas System Board of Regents approved an agreement between its flagship Austin campus and a private company to build the new facility next to the Mike A. Meyers Soccer Stadium. The location will also allow for easier access to students living in on-campus dorms and off-campus apartments.

The Frank Erwin Center, the current basketball and concert venue, which is affectionately called "The Drum" because of its shape, will eventually be torn down for construction of the UT Dell Medical School expansion.

The price tag on the new arena is $300 million, which will be paid by the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group LLC, which will lease the 6.64 acres from UT to build the arena. Once construction is complete, UT will turn over the facility to the group, which will operate it throughout the year except for around 60 days the university gets it for basketball, graduations and other school functions.

It's happening y'all!

"We’re building one of the nation’s finest arenas that will provide an awesome home court advantage for our basketball programs and a premier entertainment venue for the City of Austin."
🗣 @_delconte
https://t.co/EEQ3edj7T2 | #HookEm🤘 pic.twitter.com/bBcYeEhK1N

— Texas Longhorns (@TexasLonghorns) December 20, 2018

The new arena will hold up to 10,000 fans for basketball and up to 15,000 for concerts. It's expected to begin construction in the summer of 2019, with a targeted opening date for the 2021-22 basketball season.

"The new arena has been designed with UT student athletes and Longhorn fans in mind," UT president Gregory L. Fenves said in the Austin American-Statesman. "It will be more accessible to residence halls and to the many students living on or near campus. The interior will allow for closer-in, enthusiastic crowds and clearer views of the court."

Matthew McConaughey, who's a former film student at UT who got his big break with a role in locally-filmed 'Dazed and Confused,' is designated as the new arena's "minister of culture."

"It's time for an authentic home court advantage for our Longhorn basketball teams," McConaughey said in a statement. "It's time for quality, success and victories for the Longhorns and for Austin. It's time for the big show. It's time. Hook 'em."

The Erwin Center opened in 1977 and hosts about 200 events a year, from men's and women's basketball games to weekly concerts, professional wrestling and many local high school graduations. It used to host the high school basketball state championships until recently, when the University Interscholastic League moved the championships to San Antonio. The move is because the championships conflicted with the annual SXWS music festival.

The placement of the new arena next to the soccer and track and field stadium creates an even bigger sports complex as it'll be next to the Texas Swim Center — which has hosted U.S. Olympic Trials and U.S. National Championships — and next to the recetly-expanded Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium, the football venue that seats more than 100,000.