During a Tuesday ceremony at which Baylor University officials updated others about fundraising for and construction of the $250 million on-campus Baylor Stadium, Brian Nicholson, associate vice president for facility planning and construction, noted that Austin Commercial-Flintco LLC construction crews and subcontractors are working around the clock to ensure that Baylor is set to play football there in August 2014:
“We placed and poured our 300th column today. I wish that was it, but we have 530 more to go. But we have crews out there six days a week, sometimes working 18 hours a day on-site. This morning we had a large concrete pour that started at 2 a.m., so they’ll work into the evening to get that finished.”
Tuesday’s update offered other good news, including announcement that $100 million in private donations has been raised for this state-of-the-art stadium. Some gifts are massive, some small, but many come from first-time donors who see vivid potential not only in Baylor’s athletic star power but in its academia and research.
Rising along the banks of a historic river, within easy view of millions of motorists speeding both north and south on Interstate 35, Baylor Stadium is worth a few moments’ reflection, given recent events. When death and destruction visited West 20 miles up the road, a huge banner with a U.S. flag was hung by stadium construction crews to remind folks on the road, some from afar, about those ties that bind: “God bless West, Texas.”
And when former President Bush opened his presidential library at Southern Methodist University on April 25, Wacoans and Baylor officials who once hoped to land the library here could instead gaze upon the stadium outline that another type of leadership inspired — and in the spot where the Bush library would’ve stood.
This isn’t to suggest we should place our faith in the future in a football stadium that will also serve as an events center. It’s to suggest that, in sometimes subtle ways, what arises on the river represents an enviable coming-together of many forces in a time of dissension across this land, a time when many believe our nation is no longer capable of seamless coordination and civic contributions by pure hearts.
Examples: The Army Corps of Engineers, a much-maligned federal agency, worked closely with crews and expedited permitting for the project ahead of schedule. Same with the city of Waco and inspection crews. And officials have worked weekly with the Texas Department of Transportation to ensure a steady flow of equipment and materials to the stadium site, even as road work proceeds on the nearby I-35 signature bridges that will stamp our town.
So forgive us if we take a moment to marvel at what rises in our midst. As construction senior superintendent Jeff Horn remarked of an area he last saw in 1985 while attending Texas State Technical Institute: “There was a separation back then with Baylor on the one side of I-35, Waco on the other, and now it seems it’s tied together. Which is a good thing.”