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Old 02-08-18, 09:26 AM
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Texas seeking private partner to develop new on-campus basketball arena


Texas seeking private partner to develop new on-campus basketball arena
By Nick Moyle Published 11:31 am, Friday, February 2, 2018

AUSTIN Texas is finally prepared to start moving on its long-gestating basketball arena project.

University president Greg Fenves on Friday announced the school will begin soliciting proposals from potential developers to operate a new arena and training facility to house both men's and women's teams, "with minimal financial investment from the university."

The 40-year-old Erwin Center, which currently houses both teams, is set to be razed in the near future in order to make room for the Dell Medical School's expansion.

"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," Fenves said in a statement. "Just as important, we are looking to do this at little cost to the university and no financial cost to the community."

Two possible locations on the eastern side of campus have been selected for the proposed arena. A few years from now, Texas hoops will be housed either by the 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 Royal-Memorial Stadium.

According to a formal request for proposal posted Friday, UT seeks a partner that has successfully developed and operated multipurpose arenas and training facilities costing between $350 million and $450 million, "at a minimum."

UT also has requested a more intimate in-game experience, which means a smaller capacity and much more fan-friendly aesthetic. The Erwin Center, which holds 16,540 for basketball games, often feels cavernous and dead during games due to its sheer size.

"This process is a critical step in the planning and development of the new arena and for the future of Texas Basketball," Athletics Director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. "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."

UT also envisions the new arena fulfilling the Erwin Center's longstanding role as a hub for concerts and other events.

"In our town, with the music scene we have and the vibrant city we have, we have to have a multi-use facility," Del Conte said. "You have to think through that, and all the parameters that work. It doesn't mean you diminish home-court advantage. You can build modern arenas that have all the things and accoutrements you need to do a concert to a basketball game to Cirque du Soleil."

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.

The RFP also noted that the selected proposer will be responsible for "100 percent" of costs of operation and maintenance of the new arena.
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Old 02-10-18, 03:12 PM
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