The University of Texas may soon get use of a $300 million arena with little if any financial input from boosters or taxpayers.
"This is an innovative deal that will be good for the city and the university," UT President Gregory L. Fenves told the Austin American-Statesman. "UT is a strategic partner with our community, and I’m looking forward to discussing the details, subject to the regents’ approval, later this week."
As it stands, the plan involves leasing 6.64 acres of campus to Los Angeles-based venue-management firm Oak View Group LLC, which will build and manage the arena while providing UT with approximately 60 dates per year to host basketball games, graduations and other university functions. To be located just south of the Longhorns' football stadium, the proposed arena would accommodate up to 17,000 people, but seat 10,000 spectators in its basketball configuration.
The university will own the building upon completion, while a OVG will recoup all revenue for 10 years. After that period, UT will get a percentage of annual revenue.
The UT athletic department has at least $14 million in annual debt service payments scheduled through 2044, according to audited figures obtained by the American-Statesman. With principal and interest payments, Texas athletics is still on the hook for $306.7 million for previous construction. With the new facility, Texas will at most have to pay for some incidentals, possibly concerning traffic and utilities.
One shortcoming has already emerged, however. The arena will not include attached practice space, something men's and women's basketball coaches were initially told it would, thus potentially putting Texas at a recruiting disadvantage compared to schools such as Kansas, which offers one-stop convenience for its student-athletes.