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AUSTIN-The University of Texas today unveils the first part of a $45-million renovation of the Frank Erwin Special Events Center, its basketball and entertainment arena, with an open house that will mark the start of basketball practice.

The $3.5-million first phase installed more courtside and student seats in the lower part of the arena to bring fans–and their noise–closer to the action. It increased seating capacity for basketball to 16,496 from 16,195.

Phases two and three of reconstruction will involve building a basketball practice facility adjacent to the Erwin Center and the addition of luxury suites. These changes not only enhance the basketball environment, but also will expand the base of entertainment options at the facility.

The $14.4-million second phase is to begin in spring 2002 and will add 28 suites on the concourse level of the arena. Work on the practice facility is to start next summer.

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