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Texas Celebrates Moody Center Groundbreaking Ceremony

Moody Center rendering

The University of Texas staged a Moody Center groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday, drawing attention to its innovative new arena, which is slated to open in 2022.

Last December, the university and a group led by Oak View Group unveiled plans for a $338-million arena that will host college basketball, concerts, graduations and other events. To be located on a site just south of Mike A. Myers Stadium, Moody Center will feature a capacity of 10,000 for most basketball games, with that figure expandable to 15,000 for events like major touring shows. In a unique arrangement, the arena’s construction on university land will be privately funded. It will also be operated by OVG, with the venue belonging to the university.

On Tuesday, the latest sign of progress for the upcoming arena emerged with a groundbreaking ceremony. That event gave university officials a chance to not only tout Moody Center’s potential boost to its basketball programs, but to note the partnership that is bringing the venue to fruition. More from

Texas basketball coaches Shaka Smart and Karen Aston were both wearing hard hats during the ceremonial dirt shoveling, as was the “Minister of Culture,” Matthew McConaughey. Smart had to run back across the street as Texas was set to host Alabama-Birmingham.

“When the Moody Center opens, it’s going to be such an incredibly different fan experience to go to basketball games,” Smart said. “We wish that was tomorrow, but I think our administration has done a phenomenal job of making that timetable as fast as it possibly can be.”

The one person in a hard hat few recognized was Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, the man [Texas athletic director Chris] Del Conte calls “the big gun, the biggest gun.”

OVG has built dozens of pro sports and concert venues all over the United States. But this is the company’s first partnership with a public university.

As part of the partnership for the arena, Live Nation and C3 Presents will collaborate to bring major tours and live events to Moody Center. Additionally, actor Matthew McConaughey is part of the effort as the “Minister of Culture,” which is expected to give him a role in shaping the guest experience at the arena.

“The University of Texas is one of the most important and largest universities in the world. Our partnership with President Fenves, Athletic Director Del Conte and the entire university is a new vision and a new standard on a private-public partnership that will create a world-class venue for the Longhorns and for Austin,” Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, said in a press statement. “This partnership has brought together one of the most recognized universities and brands, the Longhorns, with the world’s leader in content, Live Nation, and the world’s largest developer of new arenas, OVG, with Matthew McConaughey. Those partners will create one of the greatest arenas in the world and become the heart and soul for the campus and Austin.”

Texas is planning the arena as a replacement for the Frank Erwin Center, which is expected to be demolished after Moody Center opens to make way for an expansion of the Dell Medical School. The Moody Center name was unveiled last month, in honor of a $130-million grant from the Moody Foundation to support Texas athletics.

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