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About a New Basketball Arena...

  • BudreauReye, I don't necessarily have decision maker sources, but I heard about the FEC as a possible location before it hit the media outlets. Not sure if my contacts will get advanced word of the finalized location or not, but I'll relay anything I hear and am permitted to share.

    I know the FEC is one of the proposed locations for the Med School which makes sense to keep it extremely close to Brackenridge, but other locations are under consideration. I do wonder what the University pockets for hosting big name concerts etc. Also, the Cooley facility wasn't cheap and would seem like a big money pit to tear it down. I'm also in favor of doing something different as the Erwin center offers zero home court advantage in my opinion.

  • Would be nice if we could get the Butler coach to go with that arena design.

  • Thanks for responding. I agree with your take about the Special Events Center not being a good basketball facility. When you heard about the Drum site being a possible location for the Med School, were they talking about the entire site, or did they differentiate and address the possibility of using a part of it, like the parking lot? The reason I am asking is that I have read about this before, and I seem to remember the possibility of using only the parking lot part of the site.

    I am not questioning the validity of your source, I am just interested. I have done a lot of building design and some urban design in my working life. The required space for a medical school addition to an existing medical complex is a result of the program of functions that have to be met. In a large medical complex like Brackenridge, some of the new space would need to be new and free standing, some could come from from remodeling existing office space and/or parking space, and some could come from remodeling existing space within the hospital complex itself. This is why the interiors of hospitals in urban areas sometimes seem like mazes if you are not familiar with their layout. I apologize if this is obvious to everybody, but my point is that an addition of a medical school to an existing medical complex in an urban setting might not require as much square footage on the ground as one might think considering that you can build up and underground for new construction including using existing unbuilt ground space on the medical complex site including remodeled existing space and even new space vertically on existing buildings. It is probably unlikely, but depending on the value of ground space, and the desirability of having some building functions physically adjacent to each other, they could even build over the street - in the end, the shape of things, and how much ground space it requires, will in part depend on the square footage required by the program and how the functions of the program need to be related to each other.

    The reason that I am bringing up all of this is only to make the point that a Medical School might not require as much ground space north on 15th Street as some might expect. And, my thinking is that if they do not have to tear down the FEC and the new basketball facility, they won't. More likely, they would limit the encroachment of the Medical School, keep the FEC because of it's revenue stream and then at some future time build a new basketball arena on a new location.

    I have been eyeballing Google Earth just for grins, and I have an idea. Even though the traffic engineers would probably throw a hissy fit, it looks like if you rerouted Red river right after it crosses MLK going north and ran it parallel to MLK going east and then turn a sharp north parallel to the south bound I-35 frontage until the rerouted Red River would then connect with existing Red River at the southeast corner of the track stadium, you just might have room for a new basketball arena just north of rerouted Red River/MLK with room for a multilevel parking garage just to the north and south of the track stadium. The new basketball practice facility could stay where it is, which would not be ideal, or that building could be re-purposed and those functions could be a part of the new basketball arena and/or multilevel garage.

    While we are dreaming, just for grins, the south I-35 access road sure makes an elegant, pretty curve as it passes south of the track stadium down past MLK, but it also takes up a lot of ground space. If those access roads and access ramps were moved to the east just a tad, as the French say, "Waller!". Now, we got's ourselves plenty of space to play with! I know that with that scenario you would have to work with the State and it seems unlikely, but I was just in Pittsburg and there you see where roads have been re-routed to run parallel to each other in order to maximize ground use in urban areas. Maybe, it makes too much sense.

    Of course, ideas such as these and any others we might come up with are just pipe dreams, but pipe dreams are what tangible things are made of.

    This post was edited by BudreauReye 15 months ago

  • Budreau,
    Great info. I haven't heard if they'd need the entire space currently utilized for the FEC or not. My guess is that while the structure may not require as large of a footprint as the current FEC structure, I'd think they need every bit of the parking capacity they can get. Seems like a parking garage can always go up instead of just grabbing more real estate. I'm all for rerouting Red River quite frankly. Tons of space between Red River and I-35 that could be used without nuking bldgs etc. Time will tell and I'll share more if I hear anything. I think 755's info is pretty insightful as well as other posters on this thread.

  • no but I would like cheaper parking in west campus

  • My guess is that the arena is built completely separate from the campus and will likely be in a downtown location. My bet is the city would help contribute to facility with the space needed for an additional convention space.

  • There is also the mentality in Texas of having a discreet lot with front, back and side yards for every building. That is an idea that came from French romantic landscape design ideals and it has been manifested in even our city planning codes. It came to us as a reaction to more more compact English city design ideas after we broke away from the British. You can see the way this affects UT campus design by how it seems that each building has its own surrounding yard or landscaped area. The practical result of this is that these ides are hardwired into our development processes and even University planners like to have their own parcel of land where they can put their pretty little box for each project - and they do not like outside entities to interfere with their planning and design. This affects what might happen with a new basketball arena because there aren't many sizable parcels of land lying around on campus, and those parking lots are a part of the "yard" of their respective "houses" so to speak. The concept of mixed use is not a new idea, and I think it will be needed to solve this problem. And I do not mean mixed use in the way that the FEC hosts all kinds of different functions. I mean where buildings with differing functions are integrated into the same structures, as in combining a new basketball arena/team practice facility/parking garage/maybe university functions from some other school within the university. The football stadium has done this to a certain extent. From a practical standpoint, it is hardwired into our development processes, even though many designers and planners would like to see that change.

  • When I brought up this subject yesterday, my wife pointed out that the FEC, in addition to being a venue for large concerts and shows, also is important during graduation. A 12,000-13,000 seat arena may be problematic considering these other uses.

    “Kansas may wind up number one in these polls, but that would be so unfair to Texas...” -- Len Elmore, 2/13/11

  • I don't see a downtown area. That's part of the problem today. You have to have a place that is very convient for the students. Most students live on-campus or on west campus, which can make the irwin center an "inconvience".

    To create a college atmosphere you need to have the students predominately around the floor.

    I would love to look at raising the roof on gregory gym if you could make a 12-13k arena.

  • That is the problem if the FEC site is torn down and used for something else and a smaller basketball arena is built as in "the Medical School takes over the FEC site scenario". If the FEC remains and a smaller basketball arena is located elsewhere, problem solved. I just don't see the University giving up the revenue stream from the FEC without something to replace it.

  • I don't see a downtown location either, not only for the reason that you mentioned, but because land would be very expensive. The reason I thought it was an interesting idea, was that if it could be placed close to Waller Creek and the Convention Center, there would be a synergy with the Convention Center, the downtown hotels, and the Riverwalk-like development that will evolve along Waller Creek once the flood problems are taken care of by the completion of the flood control tunnel that is under construction. That would provide a pretty attractive siting for a basketball arena - maybe one of the most attractive environments for basketball in the country. I guess the only way you could accommodate students would be to have a very well run high capacity trolley system. It's a thought.

    Gregory Gym presently seats 4,400 people. If you wanted to maintain the exterior facade of the building by gutting it and building up, I do not think that you could accommodate the needed seating capacity. One way to increase the interior volume of an older building and maintain the feel of the building is to gut the interior leaving only the exterior walls. Then you add upper walls with glazed side walls above, slightly recessed from the existing walls. The upper glazing, either a color complement to the existing masonry walls or using a dark glazing to provide positive/negative contrast that would emphasize the old masonry exterior, would be capped with a new roof mimicking the profile of the old roof line. I have seen this done with the reuse of old buildings quite successfully. The problem is that the glass upper part can only go up so high before the proportions don't work any more and it would look butt ugly. In this scenario, you would not be able to get enough additional seating. I think that the only real option on that site would be to demolish the existing structure and start from scratch.

    Even if it were acceptable to lose Gregory Gym, which I do not think it would be, I doubt that you could get a large enough facility even if you also took out the Gregory Annex and the swimming pool. Now, if you could convince them to take out Moore-Hill Hall, too ... well, I think that the point is pretty evident. Even if you COULD make it work on that site by taking out enough buildings to get the space you need, what are you going to do about parking? I guess you could reverse the trolley scenario above except bringing people to Gregory from remote parking. It does seem like Gregory is a non-starter to me, but I would not mind being proven wrong.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by BudreauReye 15 months ago

  • Should have torn down the economics building and built where the current student activities center is.

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  • In many ways the UT Athletic Department does a poor job marketing (on campus) to UT students for basketball,womens sports and baseball. Hire some graduate students to fix the problem and promote the non conference games in the community. (Like YMCA teams) Have jersey night or basketball night.

    "Leadership is wisdom, courage and great carelessness of self"

  • This is highly underrated.

    FEC is an easy walk from Jester (and San Jac, etc), your biggest cluster of oncampus students, yet there is no organized effort to turn out the Jester crowd for games.

    Part of the issue is that Jester is primarily freshmen, who have to be taught to be fans. A typical incoming freshman does not just walk onto campus a diehard basketball fan. An organized "get out the vote" campaign in Jester to advertise and pump up games (particularly the big ones) would go a long way.

    Its been a while since I left Texas, but back then the student sports pass was a great deal and most students who bought it for football did not take advantage of it for basketball or the other sports.

  • Nn

    This post was edited by austinr 15 months ago

    "Leadership is wisdom, courage and great carelessness of self"

  • I have always wondered why they did not do a better job of promoting to students. I remember that Coach Penders would seemingly speak anywhere, anytime to student groups. Maybe Coach Barnes does and we just don't hear about it - maybe he could do a better job in that regards. I hear what you are saying, but some graduate students won't fix the problem. Please believe me, I am not trying to be a downer. I just think that we will not get anywhere with these issues unless we take a critical look at the situation, warts and all.

    Only two things will help. First, a different attitude from the top down in the administration - then maybe some gradual students might help. Maybe, that is substance for more than one discussion.

    Second, a culture change for students. Someone on this or another post, I am too lazy to check, said that when you take only the first whatever percent of students academically, the vast majority of these students are not going to be inculcated with the traditions of attending athletic events like perhaps the more average student might be. Well, Duke students say Hideehoo! People have said that there is just so much other stuff going on in Austin, and students are sooo busy and it is sooo far to walk. Frankly, I am kind of at the point where I just don't care. Don't take me wrong. I would love to see students actively supporting our basketball program, but at some point it just is what it is. This season is not really fair to consider what is normal. I always walk to the Drum from the west to the north entrance past the north side of the tennis courts. I usually try to get there twenty minutes or so before tip off. In seasons past, even when there would end up being precious few students in the mezz student sections, there would be students walking away, not toward, the Drum. I have heard comments made over time, so a few times, I asked what the deal was. I was told that if they could not get seats in the arena or with their friends, they did not want to sit upstairs or where ever seats were available. Over the years, I have seen this happen for well attended games and for not so well attended games. Students walking away before the game and empty student seats.

    Thirdly, biggrin (I could not hep myself! Yogi Berra says Hi!) there well could be a problem with how FEC staff handle student seating. I don't know anything about this, but I have read posts about it in threads in past years. Should be an easy fix, but maybe not.

    The bottom line is that, certainly, students are a large part of solving the lack of enthusiasm and attendance problems at basketball games; but, I am of the opinion that students themselves are a large part of solving their part of the problem. If you give them seats close to the court all around the court, it seems very likely that you might end up with a lot of empty seats next to the court for a lot of games. Then we will have to have another lame "Come on Down!" promotion.

    This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by BudreauReye 15 months ago