Moody Foundation’s bonanza for University of Texas


University of Texas Moody Center Image: Oak View Group / UT Austin

It was bonanza for the University of Texas (UT) at Austin in US as it got a generous grant from the Moody Foundation. The varsity’s new basketball and events arena will be named the Moody Center. The charitable foundation has made a $130 million gift to the school. The Moody Center will come up in place of the 42-year-old Frank Erwin Center.

The University of Texas cleared all bureaucratic process to build a new basketball arena.

The university struck a 35-year deal with the OVG Group which comprises Live Nation, C3 Presents and Hollywood star McConaughey. The deal will facilitate the construction of the Moody Center, which will host men’s and women’s basketball games, graduations, concerts and other events.

The UT Board of Regents voted on November 14 to give go-ahead to the university’s $38.5 million project to realign Red River Street around the new arena. UT President Gregory Fenves said groundbreaking will take place on December 3 to kick off the construction. The 10,000-seat arena is scheduled to open in 2022.

“There is no more fitting Texas name for a world-class arena in the heart of our campus than ‘Moody’,” Fenves stated in a statement released by the school.

“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,” he further said in the statement.

The project will straighten out Red River Street through the east end of the UT campus, connecting the pieces of Red River north of Dean Keeton Street and south of Martin Luther King Boulevard. Currently, Red River Street bends toward I-35 in that area around the LBJ Presidential Library and the Mike A Myers Stadium and Soccer Field. The new arena will come up just south of the soccer stadium in an area that is now a surface parking lot.

The Moody Foundation was established in 1942 by William Lewis Moody Jr. and Libbie Shearn Moody. As per their website, Moody Foundation has made more than $1.5 billion in grants since they set up. As per UT, it is the largest philanthropic foundation in the State.

UT Austin revealed that the Moody Foundation has made a donation of more than $200 million and the UT system has received more than a quarter of a billion dollars. The school of communications, home of KUT, also carries the Moody name.

KUT, 90.5 FM, is a listener-supported and corporate-sponsored public radio station based in Austin, Texas.

Basketball coaches in Texas termed the gift a “game changer”. “Our entire program is tremendously grateful,” men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart said in a statement.

“We are very much looking forward to seeing the Moody Center become a reality over the next few years,” Smart further remarked.

Echoing the sentiment, women’s coach Karen Aston shared, “The Moody Center will be transformative for not only our student-athletes, but also for our student body and our fans.”

Eleven months have passed since the varsity floated two novel concepts in modern college athletics. The first being Matthew McConaughey was officially tapped as “Minister of Culture”. The second was even more innovative. The university joined hands with the Oak View Group to set up a 10,000-seat basketball arena without costing the school any money.

Under the original announced deal, Oak View would recoup costs on ticket and concession proceeds for concerts and other non-UT athletics events for 10 years which will be followed by a profit-sharing agreement.

The gift made by the Moody Foundation is still mired in ambiguity vis-a-vis the specifics of how that money fits into the deal. But, it is theoretically still on course to be built without cost to the school or State.

The Board of Regents agreed to a new practice facility to be built near the Moody Center. It will come up in lieu of the Cooley Pavillion, the present basketball practice gym next to the Erwin Center. Once both the new projects are through, the old facilities will be torn down to expand the Dell Medical School.

Moody Foundation has earlier made a financial grant of $50 m to support UT Austin’s Moody College of Communication and $20 m for Blanton Museum of Art’s makeover.

Ross Moody, Trustee of the Moody Foundation as well as Chairman and Chief Executive of National Western Life Group, shared, “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.”

Moody further shared, “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.”

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