Baylor’s McLane Stadium construction on schedule

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Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:01 am

Baylor University’s McLane Stadium will be finished in plenty of time for a sold-out first game Aug. 31, university officials and contractors said on a stadium tour Wednesday.

Austin-Flintco project manager Jim Heley said the $260 million project is about 80 percent done and speeding toward completion with about 850 workers on the site.

“There’s a lot of work left to be done here in the next couple of months, but we’re on track, on schedule, and we will be ready for the first game, no doubt about it,” he said.

As he spoke in the press box nine stories above ground, the evidence of progress of the 45,000-seat stadium was clear from the window. A massive pedestrian bridge over the Brazos River is structurally complete, along with walkways and a bridge along the riverfront.

The $20 million shade canopy is largely in place, chair backs are going in and the giant video board is being installed. Workers are preparing to install turf on the field in the next few weeks, and grass will be seeded in May around the stadium site. The interior spaces are enclosed and equipped with plumbing, and crews are installing wiring and finishes. Part of the building already is air-conditioned to protect finishes and woodwork.

Heley said at this point rain won’t hinder construction because most of the work is on the inside or on weatherproof surfaces.

Brian Nicholson, Baylor’s associate vice president for facility, planning and construction, marveled at the progress of the stadium from an idea first seriously discussed in 2011 to being in the “finishing stages.”

“We have been anxious ever since we said we could do it in 24 months,” he said. “To be honest, nobody thought it could happen.”

Nicholson said he is “extremely confident” that the stadium project will be completed by Aug. 29, when Aledo and Cedar Park high schools will play a game that will be the stadium’s trial run before the Aug. 31 Baylor vs. Southern Methodist University game.

He said fundraising is going well.

“We have exceeded everything we set out to do from a fundraising standpoint,” he said. “We have overfundraised and oversold. The excitement around this project has led to other projects on campus happening.”

The university still is raising funds for a $20 million alumni events center that will be built on the side of the stadium, Nicholson said. The foundation and infrastructure are already in place, and the project is expected to be built next summer, he said.

Meanwhile, the new Baylor track facility next to the stadium is ahead of schedule and expected to be finished this fall.

In all, the site will have about $300 million of improvements including the stadium, track and alumni center, Nicholson said.

Meanwhile, plans are moving forward for running the stadium year-round as a venue for major events and home of the new Baylor Club.

The board of the Baylor Waco Stadium Authority, a public entity that oversees the stadium’s operations, met Wednesday and approved contracts with SMG to manage the stadium and ClubCorp to run the club.

SMG will present a yearly budget for the stadium and will get a 25 percent cut of profits from events that are booked outside game day. SMG officials said they hope to book at least one concert, a monster truck rally and a “lifestyle event,” such as a chili cookoff, in the next year.

Meanwhile, ClubCorp will spend $2.5 million in capital costs to finish out Baylor Club inside the stadium, with a $1.4 million match from Baylor. The company will give a cut of its membership and food and beverage receipts to the authority. ClubCorp officials project starting with 475 members and building to 800 within a year.

On game day, the club space will be reserved for premium food service for VIP ticketholders, but ClubCorp will host a “tailgating” party for Baylor Club members at Knox Hall at the Texas Ranger Museum.

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