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Men's Basketball

University of Texas officially announces new basketball arena will be on campus

Posted April 7th, 2017

Story highlights
  • According to one plan, Red River Street and Robert Dedman Drive would have to be straightened to make room for new arena
  • No timetable, price estimate or seating capacity has been decided at this time.
  • Both Longhorn basketball coaches Shaka Smart and Karen Aston have told Fenves they prefer an on-campus location for the facility for better access for their athletes and all students.

University of Texas officials have decided to build a new on-campus basketball facility and probably do so in the parking lot south of the Mike A. Myers Stadium and Soccer Field, which is more easily accessible for the athletes and students, school President Gregory L. Fenves announced on Twitter late Friday afternoon.

Texas needs to replace the Erwin Center southeast of campus to make room for the expanding UT Dell Medical School. The 16,540-seat basketball arena has served as the home for the Longhorns men’s and women’s basketball teams since November 1977 and was used to host the UIL boys and girls basketball championships until they were moved to San Antonio in 2015.

“We are considering a plan to build the arena south of Mike A. Myers track stadium, though we have not yet determined the precise footprint, scope or cost of the facility,” Fenves said in a statement Friday.

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The facility could be used to host other events and shows, the Statesman has learned.

Texas men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart wants his team to continue to play in an on-campus arena. STEPHEN SPILLMAN/FOR AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Fenves said that Longhorns basketball coaches Shaka Smart and Karen Aston prefer an on-campus arena to make it easier for students to travel there from their dorms, classes and practices.

The Texas Athletics Master Plan released in 2016 identified several sites for a replacement for the 40-year-old Erwin Center and recommended it be built on campus. The plan listed a small parcel south of Myers Stadium as the preferred site. That parcel is part of the larger area now being reviewed by university leadership for the new basketball arena.

If Texas does build on that site, the two streets bordering it — Red River Street on the east and Robert Dedman Drive on the west — will be straightened.

“The campus master plan developed in 2012 called for the land under the Erwin Center to be used for future expansion of the Dell Medical School and the UT Health District,” Fenves said in a statement. “As we prepare for that, we will also ensure that our outstanding men’s and women’s basketball programs can continue to compete in a great arena.”

The arena has hosted everything from back-to-back Paul McCartney concerts to a 2011 Davis Cup tournament with Spain.

PHOTOS: Frank Erwin Center celebrates 35 years

The Erwin Center, named for the late UT System Board of Regents power broker Frank Erwin, was built at a cost of $34 million, although it was subsequently renovated at $55 million with new seating and lighting plus 28 luxury suites.

By putting the new structure on campus, Fenves said, “it also makes the games more accessible to our student fans. By choosing a central location, we will make the experience of going to a game more intimate and exciting for all who participate.”

Though there was no official timetable for the change, one source told the American-Statesman last week that it could take almost as long as four years to complete the project from blueprint to bricks. Fenves declined to comment on the announcement.

Our report from 2014: With Erwin Center’s days numbered, University of Texas needs new sports, entertainment venue

Or report from 2014: Will parking lot become home to a new Texas basketball arena?

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