The design for the state-of-the-art McLane Stadium didn’t come out of thin air. Baylor officials visited stadiums across the country to draw ideas before developing their own brand.
Baylor’s greatest inspiration came from the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers’ TCF Bank Stadium, completed in 2009. Like McLane Stadium, Kansas City-based Populous designed the Gophers’ stadium. While most college football programs renovate existing stadiums, TCF Bank Stadium was built from the ground up.
In January 2012, a group of Baylor officials that included associate athletic director Todd Patulski; associate vice president for facility, planning and construction Brian Nicholson; assistant athletic director for football operations Colin Shillinglaw; and Populous architects traveled to the Minneapolis campus to tour TCF Bank Stadium.
“We looked at Minnesota’s football stadium and also happened to look at Target Field (also built by Populous), where the Minnesota Twins play,” Nicholson said. “The thing that most inspired us in my mind were the open concourses. That’s what I wanted to emulate the most.”
Nicholson recalls many games at Floyd Casey Stadium where he’d miss Baylor scoring plays when he was away from his seat. Now fans will be able to see the field even as they’re roaming around McLane Stadium.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken my kids to the restroom and to get something to drink and you come back and they’ve scored two touchdowns,” Nicholson said. “You hear the crowd and say, ‘What happened?’ So now you don’t miss anything and can still have community with your friends.”
While TCF Bank Stadium features two levels of seating, Baylor built a more vertical three-tier stadium with an emphasis on shade. A canopy stretches above the upper deck of McLane Stadium to give fans some relief on Central Texas’ 100-degree days.
McLane Stadium is horseshoe-shaped like TCF Bank Stadium with an open end zone that provides campus views. Baylor was inspired by Minnesota’s spacious club room that can be used for non-football events like weddings, business meetings and proms.
The Bears’ plush oval-shaped locker room — 50 yards long and 17 yards wide — is similar to the Gophers’ model. Baylor also designed a 140-seat press box that’s built above the closed end zone, much like Minnesota’s 135-seat press box.
Like the president’s suite at TCF Bank Stadium, the suite for Baylor President Ken Starr is closer to the open end zone instead of near the middle to afford broader campus views.
“We saw their president’s suite and said that’s exactly what we want,” Patulski said. “It’s at the end so people in that suite can look on to campus, and we enhanced it with a balcony.”
With its place along the Brazos River, Baylor is one of the few football stadiums in the country with boat access. Baylor officials visited the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium on Lake Washington and the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium on the Tennessee River to see how they operate.
Taking the best ideas from other stadiums and adding some of their own, Baylor officials believe McLane Stadium will be one of the most spectacular college football venues in the country.
“It’s an unbelievable sight,” Head Coach Art Briles said. “You can go to a lot of universities in this nation, but you’re not going to find one with a stadium on the river on I-35 like that. It is a standard.
“It cannot be mimicked.”