When the new Moody Center at the University of Texas opens in April 2022, visitors might be forgiven for mistaking it for a giant clubland—replete with a variety of bars, clubs, and luxury suites and apparently, people dancing to live music on a plaza outside.
The 530,000 square-foot arena under construction on the school campus  is, of course, more than that; its ostensible purpose is to serve as a home court for UT basketball and other large, school-related events (such as graduations). However, like its predecessor, the Frank C. Erwin Center, Moody will be just as important to the city's entertainment economy as it is to university athletics: It will provide a year-round venue for large events of all kinds, and particularly big-name concerts, in the central city, just up the street from where Austinites have flocked to those events for 42 years.

From the looks of recent renderings, it seems the Moody Center's many upgrades from its predecessor will be taking a page from ACL Live, the venue that successfully transplanted tapings for the Austin City Limits show as well as becoming a performance space for midsized live shows. The Moody is a different animal, of course, but it will feature a number of bars from which to view the main event as well as swanky private suites that appear more nightlife-styled than your average stadium skybox.

West entrance of Moody CenterCourtesy of Gensler

Designed by Gensler architects, the building will break some ground on the sustainability front as well. When complete, Moody Center will be only one of two arenas in the country that will feature an HVAC system that directs airflow from the bottom to the top of the building, a more energy-efficient setup than the usual top-down affair.

In addition, according to Gensler, 95% of construction waste on the 15,000-seat arena was diverted from landfills through recovery, reuse, and recycling. Conscientious landscaping will allow a 71 percent reduction in outdoor water use, and efficient plumbing fixtures will provide a 36 percent reduction inside, according to the company, with overall energy savings of 26 percent—equivalent to the carbon footprint created by 132 homes or 266 passenger cars per year. The $338 million project is targeting LEED Gold certification.

The Moody Center gets its name from the serial philanthropists at the Moody Foundation, which donated the University of Texas’ largest gift to date ($130 million) toward its development. Dell Technologies will be the venue’s premier founding partner, garnering naming rights to both the outdoor game-day plaza and a 1,000-person club space inside. Along with Dell and Gensler, the university partnered with Oak View Group, CAA ICON, and Live Nation Entertainment/C3 Presents to realize the project, which broke ground in 2019. 

Matthew McConaughey will, of course, be the brand ambassador.