Frank Erwin Center ranks among top 100 worldwide arenas
Aug. 24, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas -- John Graham's working space at the Frank Erwin Center feels a lot more like a pop culture museum than an office.
Framed photographs line the wall -- Graham with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, with President Bill Clinton, with the Dalai Lama. There's even a signed photo of Bill Cosby.
All these artifacts speak to the function and flexibility of Graham and his Erwin Center staff. Aside from being the home for Texas Men's and Women's Basketball, the UT arena also serves as an entertainment haven -- and does so very well.
The Erwin Center ranks No. 71 among the top 100 worldwide arena venues according to Pollstar, a trade publication serving the concert industry. The Erwin Center is the only college arena ranked, and is the 34th-ranked U.S. arena.
Graham, UT Associate Athletics Director for the Frank Erwin Center, thinks of the Erwin Center as a "community arena," and in addition to UT Basketball games and concerts, it also stages graduations, the UIL State High School Basketball tournaments for boys and girls and even the Ringling Brothers Circus.
"The Frank Erwin Center can be a cultural center, it can be an entertainment center, it can be a sports center. The building is here for Austin and the region," UT Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds said.
All told, the Erwin Center stages about 250 events a year. Concert tours have brought the likes of Madonna, Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan to the Erwin Center. President Clinton and the Dalai Lama have hosted speaking engagements in the round.
And in addition to the UT basketball games, Graham says the Erwin Center hosts almost 30 professional entertainment events a year.
"We have something going on pretty much every day," Graham said. "We're very active."
Graham oversees a staff of 60 that can easily transform the Erwin Center from a basketball arena on one night to a concert venue the next. Graham says that when the Erwin Center was built, it was considered the "college version of Madison Square Garden."
"The Erwin Center is self-sustaining. We don't rely on student fees," Graham said. "It's important that we're an asset to The University, not a burden."