Baylor University President Ken Starr announced Tuesday that private funding has hit the $100 million mark for the new on-campus football stadium that is scheduled to open in August 2014.
Drayton McLane and family provided the lead gift for the $250 million Baylor Stadium in March 2012, and others have followed. Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said the university’s goal is to reach $175 million in private funding for the 45,000-seat stadium.
“Fundraising is going extremely well for the project,” McCaw said. “There has been a remarkable response. It’s exciting to see it all come together. You can see significant progress every day. We’re looking forward to the final product in 2014.”
Stadium construction is 21 percent complete and is on schedule, according to Jeff Horn, senior superintendent for Austin Flintco, LLC.
With the bulk of the foundation work completed, the most visible construction is along the northwest side of the stadium on the concourse level. The relatively dry weather has helped speed construction.
“We have crews out there six days a week, sometimes working 18 hours a day on-site,” said Brian Nicholson, associate vice president for facility planning and construction at Baylor. “This morning we had a large concrete pour that started at 2 a.m. I know the rest of Waco may need some rain, but we need to be dry. The weather to date has been fantastic.”
Horn said construction crews are trying to move quickly as subcontractors supply different building materials for the stadium.
Nicholson said 7,000 cubic yards of concrete already have been poured, along with 22,000 truck loads of dirt. Five miles of underground piping and 1,129 piles that are each 45 to 50 feet deep also have been installed.
“The stadium itself is a fast-track job,” Horn said. “Everything that comes to this site is brought here. But it’s all a matter of coordination — bringing all these materials in a timely fashion, knowing when they need to be here.”
With the edge of the stadium located about 100 yards from the Brazos River, construction crews have had to deal with unique issues.
Horn said field level for the stadium is 6 feet above water level to avoid potential flooding issues.
“One of the unique things on the site is dealing with the lagoon, overhead power lines, existing sanitary lines, just to get ready to build the stadium,” he said.
During the summer, Nicholson expects work to begin on the precast seating bowl and installation of structural steel along the west side of the stadium.
The stadium’s square footage will be 860,000 feet compared to 410,000 at Floyd Casey Stadium, where the football team currently plays.
Baylor football coach Art Briles said the stadium couldn’t be in a more ideal location along the Brazos River on Interstate 35.
Though the Bears still have one more season to play in 63-year-old Floyd Casey, Briles said the on-campus stadium already has paid off in recruiting
“Our people were bold enough and had enough vision to put a beautiful stadium right there on I-35 and the Brazos River,” Briles said. “How many other schools can do that? I’m looking around and I can’t find anybody. It’s not just all about 17- through 18-year-olds, it’s about changing the perception for everybody. You take advantage of what you have, and we’re doing that now.”
Briles is glad Baylor chose the Populous architectural firm of Kansas City to design the stadium since it has a history of designing great athletic facilities like the new Yankee Stadium in New York, Minute Maid Park in Houston and the new football stadium at the University of Minnesota.
“Populous is the best in America,” Briles said. “It’s a big-time deal built by big-time people. When Baylor does something, they do it right.”
McCaw said all the founder suites, premium suites and loge boxes are already sold out for the 2014 season, and ticket sales are brisk for the 2013 season. Baylor is building off the momentum of a school-record three straight bowl appearances, including wins in the 2011 Alamo Bowl and the 2012 Holiday Bowl.
“The outstanding work of Coach Briles, his staff and the student-athletes has inspired Baylor Nation to rise up and be a part of Baylor football,” McCaw said. “I think we’re going to have the most modern fan- and athlete-friendly stadium in America.”