The Texas Longhorns and athletic director Steve Patterson are close to purchasing the Austin American-Statesman site to build the replacement for the Erwin Center, real estate sources told a former Statesman reporter:
.@michaelcorcoran, still a fine reporter, hears new @utaustin basketball arena will be on current @statesman site pic.twitter.com/JGv0XL7yAx— Evan Smith (@evanasmith) February 21, 2015
Unsurprisingly, school officials denied the report:
#UT officials deny social media reports that the university has decided to buy Statesman site for basketball arena.— Ralph Haurwitz (@ralphhaurwitz) February 21, 2015
As the Statesman struggles financially with the constriction of the newspaper industry, the current location looks ripe for purchase and further development, situated as it is on south bank of the river just off Congress Avenue.
And Texas needs a site for a new basketball arena since construction of the Dell Medical School will result in the Erwin Center's demolition within the next six to eight years.
However, the Statesman site would be expensive, which could explain why Patterson quoted a figure of $500 million when asked about the cost of a new arena. Patterson also wants city funding and the new mayor is at least amenable to having that discussion.
The obvious downside to the downtown location is the lack of proximity to campus, a fact that could impact student attendance. But from the perspective of Patterson and the university, there may not be any more appealing options on campus or close to campus with limited available land in that part of the city.
[Monday update]: Some clarification from Corcoran on Facebook:
Friday night I ran into a friend - a Realtor who always seems to know what's going on around town with new developments. He told me my former place of employment, the Austin American Statesman, was going to be torn down for a basketball arena/ concert hall to replace the Erwin Center (which is slated for teardown in a few years to make way for new medical school.) This is an old rumor, but my friend said it was a done deal. Stratus Properties had bought up 10 acres next to the Statesman and big things were coming, including, possibly, a domed soccer stadium.
So that night I posted the rumor on Facebook, with the qualifier "if my friend is to be believed" and went to sleep. The next day I had phone messages from reporters and a DM from a TV news producer. My post had been shared and retweeted dozens of times...
Well, it's all a little embarrassing, even though I'm sure there's some big development coming to that area, maybe even the one I alluded to. I was just trying to throw it out there for comments and to jab my former employer a little (suggesting Cox-Zucker Arena as a name). Unlike my scoop in October that Live Nation was acquiring C3, this one didn't come from a source in the inner circle. It was just a guy I knew that I ran into at Donn's Depot. Won't make that mistake again.
On the plus side, I did make a few well-paid folks work on a Saturday.