By J.B. Bird
The University of Texas at Austin’s new basketball arena and events center will be named Moody Center in honor of a $130 million grant to UT from the Moody Foundation, which has generously supported universities, libraries, museums and hospitals across Texas for more than 75 years.
The grant to support Texas Athletics is the single largest gift from a foundation in the university’s history and brings to more than $200 million the donations to UT Austin from the Galveston-based foundation. Previously, the foundation contributed $50 million to support the Moody College of Communication and $20 million to reimagine and transform the exterior spaces at the Blanton Museum of Art. Overall, the foundation has contributed more than $260 million to institutions in the University of Texas System.
It is also among the largest gifts ever made to any university for a new arena. A groundbreaking ceremony for the Moody Center will be held Dec. 3 at the site of the arena south of Mike A. Myers Stadium. The Moody Center is expected to open in 2022.
“The Moody Center signals a new era for UT and Austin, providing fans and citizens the world-class experience they deserve in the world-class city we call home,” said Ross Moody, trustee of the Moody Foundation and chairman and CEO of National Western Life Group. “The Moody Foundation has a long history with this prestigious university and this wonderful community. We couldn’t be happier to partner with UT in this transformative gift to benefit future generations of Longhorns and Texans.”
Founded in 1942 by W.L. Moody Jr. and Libbie Shearn Moody, the Moody Foundation has made more than $1.7 billion in grants throughout Texas to organizations that have educated, healed, nurtured and inspired generations of Texans. It is the largest philanthropic foundation in the state of Texas.
“The Moody Foundation and its trustees — Elle Moody, Ross Moody and Francie Moody-Dahlberg — continue to transform our university so we can better serve our students, community and the state. There is no more fitting Texas name for a world-class arena in the heart of our campus than ‘Moody,’” said President Gregory L. Fenves. “This will be a state-of-the-art events center that will serve Texas’ student-athletes and benefit the entire Austin community. I am grateful to the Moodys for their generosity.”
“When the Moody Center opens, it will be the finest college basketball arena in the country, hands down, as well as an unbelievable concert and entertainment venue for the entire city of Austin,” Vice President and Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte said. “We cannot thank the Moody family and the Moody Foundation enough for their historic gift to The University of Texas.”
In December 2018, the university and a group led by the Oak View Group announced plans to build the arena on campus to be home to Texas Men’s and Women’s basketball games, and graduations, concerts and other events for the Austin community.
The Moody Center will replace the 42-year-old Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center, which will make way for the future expansion of the Dell Medical School.
The 10,000-seat arena will provide an intimate, state-of-the-art men’s and women’s Longhorn basketball fan experience and feature student seating surrounding the court. Much like the Erwin Center, the new venue will be a prime location for university, campus, community and high school events. Additionally, the new arena is designed to expand to 15,000 seats and will provide a world-class venue for touring concerts and shows.
J.B. Bird is in University Communications at the University of Texas at Austin
Photo courtesy of University of Texas at Austin