The Moody Foundation of Galveston has granted $2.5 million to KLRU, the largest single gift ever received by the PBS station, to help equip the new home of "Austin City Limits" on Second Street downtown with high-definition production equipment.
In recognition, the new venue, expected to be completed in December 2010, will be called Moody Theater. The new theater/studio will hold 2,750 fans, up from the current capacity of 320, and will host an estimated 120 shows a year in addition to the "ACL" tapings. KLRU will get 45 days a year, rent-free, to produce each season of the longest-running music series in American television history.
"Austin City Limits" will tape its 36th season next year at the current location on the University of Texas campus, then move to the new Moody Theater in early 2011.
" 'Austin City Limits' put Austin on the map as the live music capital of the world," said Ross Moody, 47, a KLRU board member and trustee of the Moody Foundation. "The program is known throughout the world and is an important part of the economic development and success of the city."
Moody said KLRU approached him early this year, "but it was a welcome approach. It's a great opportunity for the foundation to step up to the plate and kick off this $6.5 million fundraising campaign."
Moody said the grant is the largest the foundation has given in Austin, where he has lived since 1991. KLRU is seeking money to purchase and install HD production equipment in the new venue.
The owners of Moody Theater, including Willie Nelson (who filmed the "ACL" pilot 35 years ago), developer Stratus Properties Inc. and the Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, will pay the $40 million construction costs of the new theater/studio. The new home for "ACL" is part of a development that includes a W Hotel, luxury condominiums and retail space, as well as restaurant and office space. KLRU will provide the production and film equipment needed to record "ACL" programs.
Stratus on Wednesday closed on a new $120 million construction loan for the W project made by Beal Bank Nevada, replacing financing from the original construction lender, Corus Bank. Chicago-based Corus was seized by federal regulators last month.
Stratus said the new loan will allow the $300 million project to be completed as scheduled.