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Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

Erwin Center’s replacement is on track to open next spring. The new arena is already booking shows.

Thursday, April 29, 2021 by Jimmy Maas

In about a year, Austin’s newest arena, Moody Center, will open on the UT Austin campus. The arena is a $338 million public-private project that will eventually replace the Frank Erwin Center.

But unlike its predecessor, it will be managed by the entertainment company Oak View Group with bookings done through LiveNation and C3 Presents, all in collaboration with UT. That means you might expect a lot more shows and events at the new arena to help turn a profit.

The interior bowl of Moody Center is being constructed. Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez.

Casey Sparks, assistant general manager of Moody Center and vice president at Oak View Group, says they’re trying to lure some big events to Austin, even award shows.

“Why can’t there be a music award show in Austin?” Sparks said. “We’re known for being the Live Music Capital of the World.”

They’ll also be aggressively courting conventions and NCAA tournaments.

Moody Center officials say they’ve already booked 60 nights of music next year. Add in the 60 nights UT will use it for basketball games and graduations and the arena’s schedule is already getting tight before all the concrete has even been poured.

Workers prepare to place a truss to help support the western part of the Moody Center roof. Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez.

It was at the announcement of a new arena in 2018 when UT gave actor Matthew McConaughey the ceremonial title of Minister of Culture. He has since been involved in the planning of the arena.

McConaughey has said he wants the Moody Center to be the first place every band wants to play and the last place opposing college teams want to play. To that end, Gensler architects and Oak View have paid careful attention to sound and technological details. McConaughey has also consulted on fan experience for music and sports.

Jeff Nickler, senior vice president for Oak View Group and general manager of Moody Center, says McConaughey has surprised him and his peers.

“He’s come up with these ideas,” he said. “We’re in this business and we see this stuff every day, but he comes up with these creative things on fan engagement that we would never have thought of.”

UT, Oak View, Gensler and C3 are expecting the Moody Center to be completed next spring.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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