The decision to rename the unfinished Baylor Stadium for Texas business magnate Drayton McLane Jr. and his family in acknowledgement of many years of support for Baylor University is hardly a surprise. But this deserving honor goes beyond the fact McLane gave the lead gift for the $260 million project — reportedly the largest capital gift in Baylor’s long history.
Besides McLane’s own service on Baylor’s board of regents (and during some transformational years), the McLane clan’s generosity is evident in the McLane Student Life Center, the distinctive gold-leaf finish on the dome of Pat Neff Hall, the McLane Organ in Jones Concert Hall and the McLane Carillon chiming hymns and other tunes heard daily from Pat Neff Hall.
In an interview with Trib staffer Regina Dennis this week, McLane confirmed his family’s original wish was the arena be named Baylor Stadium: “Our family style has been to be very conservative, to be very modest about something like this, but after a period of time of talking to the top leadership of Baylor, we agreed to do it.”
To put it bluntly, it seems Baylor regents would not be denied — and had been lobbying McLane for the name change almost since announcement of the gift in 2012. Whatever the case, this newspaper concurs with regents’ decision, if only because of what Baylor — and the newly dubbed McLane Stadium — have meant and will continue to mean for all Waco and Central Texas. McLane was touting the idea of an on-campus stadium back when many of us dismissed the notion as appealing but still a pipe dream.
As the stadium (and coincidentally community events center) evolves along the Brazos River within sight of anyone on busy Interstate 35, it will quickly come to symbolize there’s more to Waco than one might first conclude, especially for folks speeding on by. In many ways, it will help reshape perceptions by the broader public about our city — and given some of our past, that’s only for the better.