Down in Houston, a question has circled the city for months on end, like passengers stuck on the light rail. What should become of the Astrodome?
With the Super Bowl returning to H-Town in 2017, Houstonians are light-bulbing ideas left and right on ways to reinvent the iconic Dome. The 50-year-old facility has not aged gracefully in recent years, and nobody wants a nationally televised eyesore parked next to Reliant Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.
Such questions about my former hometown — my first four years of elementary school were spent in Houston — got me to thinking about my current one.
So, what should happen to Floyd Casey Stadium? What’s the best Case scenario?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock at the bottom of the Brazos, you’re aware that a new Baylor Stadium is forthcoming in 2014. (And even if you had been living under such a rock, you probably still would’ve heard the construction).
As a football facility, Floyd Casey — home to the Baylor Bears for the last 63 years — is not long for this world. But it’s also a usable structure in a heavily traveled area of town. It deserves a better fate than being bulldozed to the ground. Or if the stadium itself is razed, at least the land could be re-purposed, right?
Right. As such, I’ve spit-balled a few ideas, some better than others. I’ll let you decide which should stick or not.
How about a walk in the park? Waco possesses a plethora of parks already, to be sure. But not necessarily an abundance in that part of town, and few places bring neighborhoods together any better. With the amount of land on site (approximately 60 acres, including the Hart-Patterson Track Complex area), developers could construct a real humdinger of a park. We’re talking slides, jungle gyms, see-saws, ball fields, maybe even a carousel or two.
And such a plan would extend a tradition of sorts, as the Floyd Casey field is often (and happily) overrun by pint-sized Bear backers after big wins. Keep the kids playing, I say. Unless you’d rather hear …
Gentlemen, start your engines. What if the facility were sold to a group interested in creating a racetrack in that area? (I’m speculating, not reporting). Be it a dirt track or asphalt, the Case’s oval shape would seem to be conducive to lots of drivers making high-speed left turns.
Granted, it might seem like a seating capacity of 50,000 would be expansive. But that all depends on the quality of racing. I’m not a racing aficionado, but if the Texas Motor Speedway can draw 200,000 for a NASCAR race, couldn’t a smaller event lure possibly a tenth of that audience?
However, neighborhood residents probably wouldn’t appreciate the noise or clouds of exhaust. But they might patronize …
A community-friendly smorgasbord. Down in Austin, developers are planning a unique redevelopment project for the long-vacant Mueller Airport site. It’s kind of a confluence of retail shops, offices and residential housing. Given the proximity of the Floyd Casey site to Valley Mills Drive, it’s an idea that could work for Waco, too. Yet I’m still kind of partial to …
Seeing Baylor and Waco give back. One of the city’s most inspired endeavors of the last decade involved taking the old Waco High building on Columbus Avenue and developing it into affordable loft apartments. The framework and history of the building was preserved, and re-purposed into something people could really use.
What about a similar project at the Case? The luxury suites could be revamped into resident-friendly lofts, and parking certainly wouldn’t be a problem. And wouldn’t the field level be ideal for a walking track and resident pool? I can vouch that my seat from the press box provides a mesmerizing view of downtown Waco as one peers toward the horizon.
What wouldn’t work for Floyd Casey is maintaining it as a football stadium. Baylor’s new palace on the riverfront would likely generate plenty of business as a high school playoff site, and Waco ISD Stadium, that Taj Ma-ball off New Road, and Midway’s revamped Panther Stadium remain popular playoff destinations, too.
The city of Waco and Baylor have an agreement that if a suitable alternative purpose for Floyd Casey isn’t determined, the stadium would be torn down. Just this week, Baylor officials told the Trib that no future use for the Case had been determined yet.
To me, it’s just a matter of finding the right idea. What do you think, Waco?