Baylor University’s proposed new on-campus football stadium should prove welcoming to fans and intimidating to opponents, as its steep sides will create walls of noise but better sight lines than Floyd Casey Stadium.
“We don’t think there will be a bad seat in the house,” said Reagan Ramsower, Baylor vice president for finance and administration, who spoke Friday to about 200 people at the Greater Waco Chamber’s midyear banquet.
Ramsower talked about the city’s vision for downtown and riverfront development and how the contributions of others helped make the dream of a stadium on the Brazos River at Interstate 35 a reality.
He used slides and fact sheets to address particulars of the $250 million project to be called the Community Events & Stadium Complex, with space for a myriad of events beyond the game-day experience.
Groundbreaking will be in early August on the stadium, and Ramsower repeated the school’s pledge to involve as many local subcontractors as possible to prepare the stadium for play beginning in fall 2014.
Austin Commercial, of Dallas, and Tulsa, Okla.-based Flintco will manage the project.
Private donations, Baylor bonds and a proposed $35 million contribution from Waco’s Tax Increment Financing Zone will fund construction of Baylor Stadium.
It will have 42,000 fixed seats but is expandable to 55,000.
About 1,100 fans can buy standing-room-only tickets to occupy the stadium concourses.
A landscaped berm near the south end zone will accommodate about 2,000 others who want to enjoy the feel of game day but do not necessarily demand the best view.
“There will be 7,000 seats for students right in the middle and down low on one side of the stadium, including 2,700 for the Baylor Line,” an organization for freshmen who circle the field before games, Ramsower said.
He said studies show Baylor will see a healthy increase in the number of students attending on-campus games, “and we want them where they can create noise and contribute to the atmosphere of college football.”
Ramsower tried Friday to give the audience a mental image of the stadium’s massive size, saying, “Two buildings the size of our new 500,000-square-foot Baylor Sciences Building would fit inside it.”
The stadium’s south end will be open, giving fans approaching the complex on a pedestrian bridge a panoramic view of activities inside.
Baylor will continue its tradition of having a Touchdown Alley, where fans can play games and enjoy food and party before the games start.
Its plans envision river access to the complex by boat, Ramsower said, adding the school also is considering an open-air habitat for its bear mascots at the stadium and more space for tailgating than now available at Floyd Casey.
To provide relief from the Texas heat, the stadium will feature interior canopies.
“Fans won’t be totally shaded, but at the apex of the day, about 50 percent will be in the shade,” Ramsower said. “As the day wears on to late afternoon, when we usually play our games, that will increase to 70 to 80 percent.”
Building an enclosed stadium, he said, would cost $150 million more and is not feasible.
Ray Perryman, a Waco-based consultant, prepared a report showing the construction phase of the stadium will have a $573 million impact on the local economy, counting salaries, materials and the multiplier effect.
During 20 years, Perryman said, the stadium will contribute $22.3 billion to Waco’s gross product.
“These are synergistic figures. The stadium alone won’t produce them,” Ramsower said. “It is part of other downtown and river development, which will include hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and much more.”
He predicted 115 non-football events will bring 68,000 people to the stadium area its first year. The Stadium Club will accommodate up to 500 guests for banquets, and Baylor will make it available to the public.
Asked about the future of Floyd Casey Stadium, Ramsower said Baylor obviously will play football there this year and next but has not finalized long-term plans.
He said it would have cost the school $80 million to “bring it up to speed” and make it an attractive and serviceable football venue going forward.
The Hart-Patterson Track & Field Complex near Floyd Casey Stadium will continue to serve Baylor’s needs for now, but Ramsower said the school eventually will develop on-campus track facilities.
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