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University of Texas Seeks Private Partner in New Arena Project

Texas Longhorns

The University of Texas is seeking a private partner in its push for a new arena, as it is soliciting interest from developers to build and operate a new arena and basketball training facility. 

As part of this proposal, the University of Texas is seeking to construct a new on-campus arena that would be designed to host college basketball, concerts, and other events. The new arena would act as a replacement for the 40-year-old Frank Erwin Center, the current home of Longhorns basketball. Texas is seeking to develop the project through a public-private partnership, with minimal financial outlay coming from the university.

“We have a unique opportunity to develop a world-class arena and training center for the men’s and women’s basketball teams that will help us recruit and support elite student-athletes, improve the fan experience and host games just a short walk away for our student fans,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “Just as important, we are looking to do this at little cost to the university and no financial cost to the community.”

The university’s Request for Qualifications and Proposal, which was issued Friday, Febuary 2, seeks private entities that have developed basketball arenas elsewhere and are qualified for the scope of the project in Austin. A new arena would be available for concerts and other events in addition to being the home of the Longhorns basketball teams.

“This process is a critical step in the planning and development of the new arena and for the future of Texas Basketball,” said Athletics Director Chris Del Conte. “It’s going to be a tremendous facility that our student-athletes, coaches and fans can be extremely proud of, and one I know everyone is committed to making a great addition to all of the venues on our campus. We’re really excited about getting this process rolling, moving forward and designing an awesome arena.”

The 40-year-old Frank Erwin Center will be replaced during the next few years to accommodate the expansion of the Dell Medical School and the university’s growing health care mission. Last year, Fenves announced that UT is committed to building the new, not-yet-named arena on campus, where it will be more accessible to students and employees.

The arena will be in one of two locations on the eastern side of campus, according to the Request for Qualifications and Proposal: either the area occupied by a parking lot south of Mike A. Myers Stadium, or the area occupied by the Recreational Sports Center and Steve Hicks School of Social Work south of Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium. The university will develop a strategic solution for any programs that are affected by a relocation.

The Texas Longhorns brand will be integrated into the building’s design, creating a facility that reflects the character, tradition and history of men’s and women’s basketball. The new arena will be smaller and more intimate than the Erwin Center, designed with concourses that put the fan experience front and center. The training center will have facilities to support student-athletes academically and athletically. The university will rely on existing parking garages and lots to meet game day needs.

The Request for Qualifications and Proposal seeks a potential partner that has successfully developed and operated best-in-class, multipurpose basketball arenas and training facilities costing between $350 million and $450 million, at a minimum; has worked with other universities; and has the financial capability to contribute all or a substantial portion of the cost to develop, build and operate the new arena. The company must “provide for the design, permitting, development and construction of the New Arena Project with minimal University financial participation.”

The Request for Qualifications and Proposal is a two-step process. Potential partners must submit their materials by Thursday, March 8. Those who meet qualifications will be invited to submit proposals. The specific timeline and financial arrangement between the university and developer will be determined through negotiations before any agreement is reached.

RELATED STORIES: University of Texas Planning On-Campus Arena

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