Ambitious plans for the 1.3 million sq ft (121,000sq m) open-air stadium and 15,000-capacity venue have been proposed for construction in Austin by Austin Sports & Entertainment, founded by sports media executives Andrew Nestor and Sean Foley. Located at the home of rodeo in Austin, the new complex is described as “a world of worlds for sports fans, music festival-goers and adventurists to take the pilgrimage for the quintessential Austin experience”.
Austin Sports & Entertainment unveiled its plans in early December for East Austin District, a project that would revitalize the 1980’s-era Travis County Exposition Center in northeast Austin. That site’s main tenant is Rodeo Austin each March, which generated more than $2.5 million in ticketing revenue and more than 6,000 tickets sold in 2017. Other events at the 6,500-capacity Expo Center include the four-day Republic of Texas Biker Rally, concerts; circuses ad assorted outdoor athletic events on the 300 acres of property.
Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group have signed on to design the project, which is planned to include an assortment of youth sports and other community facilities in a region of Austin that hasn’t experienced the rapid growth and economic development seen in many other parts of the city.
The unveiling of the proposal comes as the owners of the Major League Soccer Columbus (Ohio) Crew team are pushing for a stadium site in downtown Austin that would let them move the team there. Representatives from Precourt Sports Ventures, the Crew club’s ownership group, have said the potential Expo Center site is not an option they’re interested in. A 2015 report by Hunden Strategic Partners determined the Expo Center property could fill several gaps in the event market in central Texas. The report called for a 15,000-seat arena, 200,000 square feet of exhibition hall space, a 30,000-sq.-ft. ballroom, 25,000 square feet of meeting space, 400,000 square feet of space for the rodeo’s midway, and parking for a minimum of 6,000 vehicles. The venue will also include a 190,000sq ft (17,600sq m) area for hospitality and support functions, conjoining the two arenas and providing space for medical facilities, workshops and youth programmes. And the individual elements will be unified by all-wooden interiors based on the local barn and porch vernacular, while the rooftop will be covered in red photovoltaic panels.
Sandwiched between the buildings and connecting the district will be eight courtyards, conceived as outdoor ‘living rooms’ for public life where local people can gather for communal gatherings, food truck scenes and concerts.
In a statement, Foley and Nestor said: “The East Austin District represents an opportunity for Austin to combine what it needs with what it wants – community infrastructure for District 1 with world-class facilities for sports and entertainment. “We’re in active discussions with leading global sports and entertainment organisations, including our partner Rodeo Austin as well as various corporations, to serve as anchors.”
Also in play is the expected demolition of the Frank Erwin Center, which has served as the home of University of Texas basketball teams for 40 years and has been the only arena option in the Austin urban core. That building is expected to be decommissioned in the next five years and the university has indicated it will build a basketball-only arena as a replacement.


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