An audible has been called on the management team assigned to bring non-Baylor events to McLane Stadium, Baylor University’s football home.
Several community leaders weighing in on the stadium’s economic impact after five years said they welcome the news, and one said there is a need for more live musical acts at the stadium on the river.
ClubCorp, which runs the Baylor Club, a 2,300-member operation in the stadium hosting galas, corporate events, weddings and private dinners, now will call plays for McLane in its entirety, from the playing surface and party suites to the 2,500-space parking lot and Touchdown Alley.
It takes over from Philadelphia-based SMG, an international venue management company that has been with McLane since the beginning. The Baylor Waco Stadium Authority recently agreed to switch signal-callers, with members meeting at the stadium to hear an annual report and approving a $100,000 buyout of its contract with SMG. The transition will take place between Sept. 1 and Sept. 15, when SMG would be gone.
SMG has not returned calls seeking comment.
Malcolm Duncan Jr., who was Waco’s mayor when the Waco City Council granted $35 million in Tax Increment Financing money toward stadium construction, said ClubCorp has performed well so far.
“The question remains: What kind of events attract people?” he said. “You have to appeal to different audiences. You can’t bring the same crowd out multiple weekends of the year. Building performing arts places downtown would be a real plus. Outdoor entertainment would be a big draw. Look at Brazos Nights, how popular it is. It would be nice to have more live entertainment on a year-round basis, but with the budget the city of Waco has, you can’t necessarily do more. Making it economically viable would be a big plus.”
Megan Henderson, executive director of City Center Waco, said there was hope McLane Stadium would prove more than an athletic venue.
“Touchdown Alley, the Bowen music festival, there are many ways to use every nook and cranny of McLane Stadium,” Henderson said. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many groups and individuals use space there, how many groups meet for lunch at the Baylor Club. It really gives professional Waco a chance to develop relationships. Near the stadium, among those living in the neighborhoods around McLane Stadium, I definitely have heard people express optimism about the potential for development.”
“I have not seen big concerts, but that does not mean it has not worked out as people had envisioned, or that that’s not where we’re going. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of an evolution.”