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Official Review by Cory Sims, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Special Events Center, is the home of the University of Texas basketball teams, and a myriad of other events. One look at the exterior and it’s easy to believe that the place was built in 1977; it lacks any modernity or beauty. Often referred to as The Drum, or the Superdrum, it’s a big concrete checker piece placed onto the UT campus, less than a mile from downtown Austin and the Texas State Capitol building. There are no windows, that I could see, which gives the arena a Soviet-era charm. What the Frank Erwin Center lacks in external beauty, it more than makes up for in game experience and fan satisfaction. Good food, good game atmosphere, and generally talented teams make this venue a worthwhile stop on a trip through Texas’ capital city.
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There are several options within the Frank Erwin Center's two-level concourse, including all the usual stadium fare (pretzels, peanuts, nachos, soda) at the usual stadium prices. Your soda options will be headlined by Coca-Cola products. There is also a Quizno's inside the arena, which is unique, plus a few options for Mexican food. The combo plate at the Mexican foot stand seems to be the way to go with either two enchiladas, an enchilada and taco, two crispy tacos or a fajita taco with rice and beans all for about $7.
What really amazes me about this place is they serve alcohol. A 24 oz. can of domestic brew goes for $8, or you can get a smaller microbrew draft for the same price.
This being Austin, one of America's great food towns, save your appetite for after the game.
The overall atmosphere is good, but falls a bit short of the elite in the college basketball world. The hype video before the game is solid and there are a few special promotions that accompany pregame like having long balloons (the kind used for balloon animals) falling from the rafters.
Oh, the fireworks! This is one of the few college venues you'll visit that features pyrotechnics, and God Bless Texas expect a lot of them: prior to announcing the UT starting lineup, after each individual player introduction, and several other instances before tipoff. This makes for a pretty awesome environment for fans. Combined with all the video board media, audio cues, and a top-tier Big XII opponent visiting the gym, the crowd will likely be roaring from the moment the ref tosses up the ball to start the game.
Take a poll of Big XII players and fans asking which away trip is the best in conference, and Austin would likely come out well on top. It could be that the city has the best climate in the Big XII, could be the passion of the Longhorn fans, or more likely it's that Austin is just a spectacular city. It's easy to see why an Austin trip is high on every sports lover, music fan, and foodie's bucket list.
Where to eat. Local legend Franklin BBQ is the best I've ever had, although you MUST get there and line up at least an hour before they open if you hope to get any of their brisket. For pre and postgame drinking, you've got to go to Scholz Garten which is just a block away. Local and away fans congregate at this huge patio, with inside restaurant. Eddie V's serves a wonderful variety of seafood and American cuisine, which includes some mouth-watering steaks and lamb. There's also several local breweries and distilleries to check out in the area.
One of the truly unique things about Austin is the amount of food trucks, seemingly one for each UT student. Donuts, BBQ, cupcakes, Tacos, Asian food; you dream it, there is a truck for it. To make your search easier, there are several lots around town that host 5-10 food trucks at a time. Some of my faves are Torchy's tacos, Gourdough's donuts, and although it's not exactly a food truck, the Iced Turbo from Jo's Coffee really hits the spot on a warm afternoon.
Attractions and Entertainment. Austin is arguably the live music capital of the world. You can't take a step on 6th Street without hearing someone performing. There's a reason the South by Southwest film festival and Austin City Limits music fest have done so well in this town. There's also water activities like kayaking and sailing on nearby Lake Travis and outdoor fun on the trails and parks along the Colorado River that borders downtown. The Alamo Drafthouse doubles as a restaurant and entertainment venue. You can watch a movie while sitting down having a meal.
Where to Stay. As a travel and tourism destination, there will be plenty of lodging options for you to choose from. The Driskill will undoubtedly be your best bet for a luxurious and historical stay, though that will come with a large pricetag. A more economical downtown option is the DoubleTree Suites.
It's a little known fact to most, but Austin is the largest city in the United States without a professional sports team. With that in mind, the heart and soul of most Austin residents is in the hands of the University of Texas and Texas Longhorns athletics. UT also has one of the largest student bodies in the country, and there's no shortage of sports fans among them. This is a fan base that routinely fills 100,000 person Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium, so their passion for Longhorn sports is clear.
That being said, the average burnt orange bovine is not necessarily a serious basketball fan. Don't be surprised to see a few fans wearing football jerseys at the game. Also, away fans fill many of the non-student section, non-season ticket holder seats. For big games against Kansas and Oklahoma, sure, the Longhorns will show up, but a Tuesday nighter against TCU at the The Drum is lamer than a bongo solo. However, for the right opponent and the right stakes, with a quality Texas team, the fans can be some of the best in the country. Just more so at a football contest.
Austin is an easy walking town, so if you're at a hotel downtown you can hoof it to all the 6th Street bars, plenty of restaurants, the UT campus and Texas Capitol, and both the Longhorns' football and basketball venues. There are parking lots nearby, but prepare to pay. Plus, game traffic afterwards makes it a longer travel time than a walk, unless your hotel is just too far away. My advice is to enjoy the weather, and add some steps onto your FitBit.
Because the love of UT basketball is a little better than average, you'll have a pretty easy time purchasing tickets from someone outside the arena during your walk in. However, love of beer is above average, so you'll wait in the concession lines, and therefore bathroom lines, at least during peak times.
Tickets run from $15 for mezzanine end court to as high as $70 or more for marquee matchups. If you are looking to save a few bucks, check out a third-party ticket vendor like TicketMoster.com. You just might be able to score a seat for $10-$15 instead of the listed $70. Parking can be outrageous if you are looking for a spot next to the campus on a game night. I recommend finding a hotel near the arena that's within walking distance so you don't have the extra expense. Also, the concession prices are pretty typical. For a chance to see your favorite Big 12 team on the road, or to just watch some of the future NBA stars on the Horns' squad, the overall cost of attendance is fairly reasonable.
The chaps on the UT cheerleaders. I'll say it again, God bless Texas. There are so many unique traditions at Texas such as the burnt orange and white color combo that no other school claims, the Hook 'em Horns hand sign, the Longhorns nickname, the great former players like Kevin Durant... and, well, you don't need any others besides him. The only thing that could make this better would be if they brought Bevo (the live, Texas Longhorn steer mascot) out onto the court for warmups and put him in a pen courtside. Imagine the look on visiting opponents faces if their shot gets blocked out of bounds and into Bevo's corner. Texas, make this happen!
Member Review by pderrick
Known as "The Drum" to locals, the Frank Erwin Center has been the home of Texas Longhorns basketball for over thirty years now. The arena is located deep in the heart of 50,000 University of Texas students and more than 900,000 residents in the greater Austin area. The convenient location off of IH-35 is within walking distance of downtown Austin and the Capital of Texas complex. With the capacity to seat over 16,000 people the Frank Erwin Center can definitely be quite a rowdy experience during a marquee match up.
Member Review by Tejasduck on Feb 23, 2015
The Frank Erwin Center nicknamed "The Drum" because of the circular exterior of the building is
900 E. 11th
Austin, TX 78702
1607 San Jacinto Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
13729 Research Blvd
Austin, TX 78750
Austin, TX 78711
303 W 15th St
Austin, TX 78701