Austin’s meetings and convention sector faces a conundrum: The Texas capital is the 10th largest city in the United States, but has the 54th largest convention center. Short on square footage, the maxed-out Austin Convention Center, originally built in 1992, has been forced to turn away about 50% of business leads in recent years.  


The plan? Tear down the existing convention center in April 2025, and replace it with one that’s more than double the size and that’s scheduled to open in early 2029.  

“No city has ever done this,” says Stephen Genovesi, Executive Vice President with Visit Austin, further explaining that given there’s no more land for expansion on the convention center site, the building will need to rise vertically.  

Charting this new territory, and to minimize the disruption of business while the convention center gets its $1.6 billion rebuild, hotels are stepping up to host conventions and large group events. Central to the plan is the “University Hotel Collection” that’s anchored by the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center, a state-of-the-art hotel with 85,000 square-feet of meeting space. 


AT&T Hotel


Over the next few years, this unique partnership program will support larger groups by leveraging hospitality resources. Through relationships with nearby hotels that are within walking distance, the University Hotel Collection can offer more than 800 guest accommodations to groups attending conferences or events at AT&T Hotel and Conference Center. 


AT&T Hotel and Conference Center’s 85,000 square feet of meeting space—including modern ballrooms, an amphitheater, breakout rooms and tiered classrooms—is an ideal set up for meetings and other large events.  


“Our entire hotel is designed around the meeting planner,” says Josh Delgado, Director of Sales and Marketing for AT&T Hotel and Conference Center. “We are a group hotel first.”  


The hotel’s location on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus also gives it an edge with unique programming like the new UT Speakers Bureau that allows meeting planners to tap into the knowledge of the university’s faculty. 



A Look at The University Hotel Collection 


When the new Austin Convention Center opens in 2029, tourism officials expect it will infuse Austin with an extra $285 million in economic impact each year and support 1,600 new jobs.  


But in those interim years, Visit Austin and its hospitality partners are collaborating to make sure that Austin remains a thriving meetings destination through localized conferences known as “mini-wides” (as opposed to city-wides). The cluster of hotels, for instance, in the University Hotel Collection are mostly within a four-block radius of the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center. 


The University Hotel Collection in central Austin, and meeting and events guests have an opportunity to experience the university amenities, Genovesi says, as well as restaurants, galleries, museums and music venues. Some highlights include the Moody Center, a state-of-the art venue that opened in 2022, on the UT campus. The 530,000 square-foot entertainment venue has 16,000 seats and hosts concerts, games, and local events. 


The culturally rich campus is also home to The Blanton Museum of Art, a leading university art museum with a collection that ranges from modern art to Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Another must-visit is The Bullock Texas State History Museum with engaging exhibits that tell the story of Texas’ history. 


For those meeting on or near campus, the AT&T Hotel & Conference Center features 297 rooms and ample meeting space, which includes 53 meeting rooms and two ballrooms.  


AT&T Hotel


The 15,000 square-foot Zlotnik Family Ballroom features modern design and an eye-catching, 4,000-square-foot mural by artist José Parlá, an acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist whose piece evokes Austin’s natural environment and urban cityscape. A 10,000 square-foot Grand Ballroom on property has a classic Texas design with wood beams and chandeliers. 


Other unique meeting spaces at the AT&T Hotel & Conference Center include a 4,230 square-foot amphitheater with three screens, tiered classrooms that can accommodate up to 90 guests and are outfitted with whiteboards and ergonomic seating, ample breakout rooms, plus outdoor spaces that include a spacious interior courtyard, plus a plaza and balconies. 



Groups Can Tap into UT’s Speakers Bureau  


Another aspect that makes meetings at the AT&T Hotel & Conference Center unique? Organizations can partner with the university to hire a faculty member, coach, museum director or other expert for a keynote speech or a more informal talk. 


The campus’ speakers bureau got its start in 2024, and faculty members can cover topics from business to Science, Technology, Engineering, And Math (STEM fields) to humanities, social sciences, arts and global affairs.  


Some examples for how groups have tapped into this resource so far include a Moody School of Communication professor’s talk on how to advocate for your ideas and an accounting professor was asked to speak on measuring performance to make sure your team is reaching goals. But the topics are practically endless, ranging from the power of connections to the future of artificial intelligence. 


AT&T Hotel


Part of Austin’s magic is its entrepreneurial spirit, says Gaylen Paulson, Associate Dean and Executive Director of Texas Executive Education at The University of Texas at Austin's McCombs School of Business. The speakers that groups can hire to speak at their events are subject matter experts armed with data and research. 

“The university is the heartbeat of Austin in a lot of ways, so having someone from the university speak at an event brings local flavor,” Paulson says.