updated 9/25/2010 9:45:14 PM ET 2010-09-26T01:45:14

ARLINGTON, Texas, Sept. 24, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The University of Texas at Arlington has announced the largest single cash commitment in the University's philanthropic history, a $5 million gift toward completion of the 6,500-seat special events center on the eastern edge of campus from Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc.

The gift follows Carrizo's generous $1 million contribution announced in fall 2009 that established a graduate research fellowship program to help attract top scholars and researchers to the University.

The Houston-based, independent energy company has been developing the University's natural gas resources since 2007. Carrizo has demonstrated a commitment to bringing its wealth of knowledge, experience, safety and reliability to its relationships with the University, the city of Arlington and the North Texas community.

S.P. "Chip" Johnson IV, Carrizo's president and chief executive officer, described his company's relationship with UT Arlington as "strong and mutually beneficial." The natural gas program has generated more than $5 million in royalties for the University since campus wells went into production in late 2008.

"UT Arlington's new special events center promises to have a dramatic impact on the campus and to be a resource for the entire community," Johnson said. "We believe that a robust and vibrant campus is a key ingredient in attracting outstanding students and in helping more of them earn their degrees."

UT Arlington learned in 2006 that its campus sits on a sweet spot within the Barnett Shale, one of the largest natural gas fields in the nation. Since then, Carrizo has successfully completed 22 wells at a single campus site.

Natural gas royalties are being used to encourage University supporters to leverage major gifts that boost UT Arlington's academic and research missions through the Maverick Match. The program allows philanthropic partners who make endowment gifts of $25,000 or more to see their contribution doubled through natural gas royalty matching funds.

"We are fortunate to have six new doctoral fellows this fall who have brought their talent to UT Arlington through our partnership with Carrizo," President James D. Spaniolo said. "This new commitment to our special events center is transformational for UT Arlington and, we believe, signals many great things to come."

Construction of the $78 million special events center continues east of Pecan Street, between Second and Fourth streets. A real-time webcam is capturing work on the center, which is expected to be complete in late 2011.

Carrizo Oil & Gas (Nasdaq:CRZO) is engaged in the exploration, development and production of natural gas and oil. The company's current operations are focused in the Barnett Shale area in North Texas, in the Marcellus Shale of Appalachia, along the onshore Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana, and in the U.K. North Sea where two significant Carrizo generated discoveries were made in the 2nd quarter of 2007.

For more about Carrizo Oil & Gas, please visit www.crzo.net .

The University of Texas at Arlington is a vibrant, comprehensive institution of nearly 33,000 students in the heart of North Texas and is one of the state's seven emerging research institutions. UT Arlington is engaged in $300 million of capital improvements, including the special events center, and is working with community partners to develop more than 20 acres on the eastern edge of campus.

For more about UT Arlington, please visit www.uta.edu .

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