Bohls: New Erwin Center will seat fewer, attract fewer music concerts


While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:

1. There is a strong likelihood that the new Texas basketball arena that replaces the Erwin Center at a to-be-determined site may be cozy enough to create a more intimate setting and better home-court advantage. But it will probably be no bigger than 12,000 seats, which would increase ticket demand with less ease for walk-up sales on game day, and that might preclude the arena hosting some big-time concert acts. Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said the size of the new building is still in the discussion stage, but he smartly prefers smaller over bigger. “It would definitely hurt them for some shows — and I suspect would mean some major acts would play the AT&T Center in San Antonio instead of here,” said Peter Blackstock, our American-Statesman music writer. “That’s already happening a little bit as it is.” Blackstock said Katy Perry’s tour last month went to San Antonio instead of here, and Elton John’s upcoming farewell tour will as well. “If the new arena is 4,000 seats smaller, (than the Erwin Center), I would think even more big-name acts might bypass Austin,” Blackstock said. The AT&T Center’s listed capacity of 18,581 is almost 2,000 more than the Erwin Center’s 16,734. Asked if it could mean less revenue, Del Conte said, “I don’t anticipate losing any revenue. It will be a new design that will uniquely fit the needs of our basketball program and the city of Austin.” 

2. Texas baseball begins Friday with one of its strongest schedules ever with 30 of its 53 games against teams in last year’s NCAA tournament, including three College World Series teams. The Longhorns face powers like Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Stanford, Arkansas and Texas A&M. “I was looking around for Our Lady of the Salt Mines, but couldn’t find it,” UT coach David Pierce said during our “On Second Thought” podcast. “The schedule is a risk-reward one. I want the players to know what they’re up against. I like it because you come out of it prepared for the Big 12.” The Longhorns have 21 new players to go with a set rotation topped by ace Nolan Kingham, whom Pierce loves because “he throws deep into games and he has a little Houdini in him. He has some escapability.”

3. Sergio Garcia will join Ben Crenshaw, five junior golfers, Austin Country Club head pro Dale Morgan and three local sports anchors to take a shot at winning $1 million for charity in the Riverboat Charity Challenge on Thursday. If anyone makes a hole-in-one on No. 13 — off a riverboat — from 165 yards, $1 million will be shared by five charities. Whichever team of two gets a ball closest to the pin will receive $1,000 toward their charity. … Garcia and Rory McIlroy are the latest to commit to the WGC-Dell Match Play next month. … Former Longhorn Beau Hossler had one of his better PGA Tour performances with a share of the 36-hole lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am before dropping back to 43rd with rounds of 74-76.

4. I wish less attention would go to the Johnny Manziels and more to those like Tim Tebow who are trying to impact lives in a positive way. For the fourth straight year, Tebow’s foundation has promoted “A Night to Shine,” a prom for young adults with special needs. “It’s my favorite night of the year and we get to change so many lives,” Tebow said in a video. “They get to ride in limos, they get to walk down red carpets. They realize that they’re special, that they’re loved. There’s not much more important than that.” For the third year, my Austin Ridge Bible Church was one of 540 churches in 16 countries to pick up the charge with 175,000 volunteers celebrating more than 90,000 “kings” and “queens.”

5. I’m totally on board with the Texas Rangers’ decision not to go hard after former ace Yu Darvish for the outlandish sum of $126 million over six years, and not just because he bombed in the World Series and basically cost the Dodgers a shot at the championship against the Astros. I’m all for austerity when it makes sense, and I can’t find a soul who thinks the Rangers will be competitive this season. 

6. I love Olympic figure skating. I’m overwhelmed by the overall athleticism, beauty and grace of these figure skaters, but I’m a little put off by the account that American skater Adam Rippon used to subsist on a diet of three slices of bread a day. … I did watch the opening ceremony on Friday night, and I had no idea they made stairs-climbing an official Olympic event. Just how many stairs did they have to climb on their way up to lighting the cauldron? I’d have tapped out halfway up.

7. Shaka Smart should borrow a page from TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon: Look Down Under. I was thoroughly impressed with terrific shooter Kouat Noi, the Horned Frogs’ 6-7 forward from Newcastle, Australia. He’s one of 26 Australian freshmen playing college basketball, and one of four foreigners on Dixon’s roster. Besides Noi, who hit four threes in TCU’s win over Texas, Dixon has 6-8 forward Lat Mayen, ranked the No. 1 player in last year’s Australian recruiting class and a redshirt this season to satisfy clearinghouse regulations; 6-11 forward Vladimir Brodziansky, a senior from Slovakia and a force inside with a terrific baby hook shot; senior forward Ahmed Hamdy from Egypt, who graduated from VCU with a degree in homeland security; and 6-10 center Angus McWilliam from New Zealand, who averaged 27 points and 22 rebounds as a senior and is also redshirting.

8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Texas basketball great Larry Robinson.

9. My wife and I were enthralled by “I, Tonya.” Captivating performance as the bitter, hateful, abusive mom by Allison Janney, who should edge out Laurie Metcalf from “Lady Bird” for an Oscar Award. Gave it eight ducks.

10. Crazy prediction: By this time next year, the Lakers will have one of the four best records in the NBA.



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