The University of Texas at Austin has opened the doors to Moody Center, its new 15,000-seat arena built at a cost of $375m (£287.3m/€346.4m).

Primarily designed to be the new home of UT Austin’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as being a major concert venue, Moody Center will debut to the public today (Wednesday) with a John Mayer concert.

The venue’s official grand opening is slated for April 29-30. ‘Strait from Moody Center’ aims to be a Texas-sized celebration featuring country music star George Strait with special guests Willie Nelson & Family and Randy Rogers Band. Both opening concerts are sold out.

Developers for the project include Oak View Group (OVG), Live Nation Entertainment/C3 Presents, UT Austin, and Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey.

UT Austin and the OVG consortium announced plans in December 2018 to build the on-campus arena, with famous alumni McConaughey having been brought in as the ‘minister of culture’ for the project.

The arena is named Moody Center in honour of a $130m grant from the Moody Foundation, one of the largest gifts The University of Texas has ever received.

The project’s stakeholders broke ground on the Moody Center back in December 2019. The $338m arena replaces the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center at the university campus. Gensler has served as the design partner at Moody Center, with CAA ICON engaged as developer’s representative overseeing design and construction on behalf of OVG, and AECOM Hunt serving as the general contractor. 

Drawing from Austin’s culture and community as core design concepts, the arena seeks to bring people together from the moment they arrive, through to the end of a show. Built into the hillside, Moody Center provides a sweeping 360 degrees of glass walls and at-grade entrances into every concourse in the building. Over 100 companies were used in the design and construction of the venue and the current estimated value of the subcontracts for Texas-based companies is $206.89m.

Moody Center is surrounded by 200-year-old oak trees that were relocated during construction and have since been replanted around the Dell Technologies Plaza. The Dell Technologies Plaza will serve as a fan destination hosting sponsor activations and pre-show entertainment on the Hulu Stage.

In terms of premium spaces, Moody Center offers over 44 suites, nearly 2,000 club seats, three premium clubs, 57 loge boxes, and 1 super VIP club (Moët & Chandon Impérial Lounge). Depending on seat locations, club members will have exclusive access to elevated culinary offerings and private bars within the Dell Technologies Club, Indeed Club, and Germania Insurance Club. As of last month, suites and club memberships at Moody Center are sold out.

“The way the building is sited on campus, we are very fortunate – but it was intentional – to have a front door and have terraces look over the downtown skyline and state capital,” Jonathan Emmett, principal and designer director for Gensler Sports, told Forbes.

“When standing on the terraces you truly know where you are on the UT campus and that you’re part of Austin. The entire city and campus open in front of you. It is a pretty spectacular space.”

Images: Moody Center