A year after opening, Baylor University’s McLane Stadium has been deemed an off-season success as a private club, a regional corporate meet-up space and a venue for weddings and community events.
But stadium operators still are trying to find the right recipe for a blockbuster event, after crossing off “monster truck rally” from that list.
The Baylor Waco Stadium Authority, which leases the stadium on non-game days, on Monday approved a 2015-16 stadium budget of $3.26 million, a large portion funded by Baylor itself. The budget indicates that Baylor will subsidize nongameday programming to the tune of $630,834.
The board, which includes Baylor and Waco leaders, heard presentations from SMG, the stadium event contractor, and ClubCorp, which runs the Baylor Club.
Baylor officials said the stadium is on track to host nearly 1,000 events both big and small in 2015.
Those events range from weddings, Rotary Club meetings and conferences to a rib fest, a monster truck rally, high school football games, a giant Christian gathering and the city’s Independence Day fireworks show.
Neal said he hopes to increase usage of the stadium in the budget year starting Oct. 1, with events including major religious and country concerts next June.
He said his team still is looking to recruit a stadium-filling act, but those are few and far between.
“My goal is to steal one show a year from Dallas,” he said.
A bright spot has been the Baylor Club, which includes a lounge, bar and grill, a patio, formal dining room and ballroom that can seat 750 people.
Baylor Club General Manager Brandon Millares said he was amazed at the interest in the club space. As of Aug. 11, the club this year has brought in $2.4 million, nearly $1 million more than expected.
Part of that results from private club membership, which at 1,694 members is over 33 percent more than projected.
Even more surprising has been the club’s popularity for private events, ClubCorp officials said. It has become a prime wedding spot as well as a meeting spot for corporations spread out among Texas cities, including Chase Bank, Baylor Scott & White, Deloitte and KPMG.
“It’s unbelievable,” Millares said.
SpaceX, the internationally known space exploration company with a testing facility in McGregor, is hosting its annual corporate party at the stadium and is bringing in event designers from Los Angeles for the occasion.
Reagan Ramsower, Baylor vice president and chief financial officer, said the stadium could play an even greater role in corporate events, in cooperation with hotels and the Waco Convention Center.
“We ought to do more as the larger community to market Waco as a corporate retreat,” he said in an interview after the meeting. “Why wouldn’t AT&T want to come here for something like that? There’s a real opportunity here. We are in such a great location.”
Former Waco Mayor Virginia DuPuy, a member of the Baylor Waco Stadium Authority board, said she is pleased with the progress the stadium has made as an event center.
“I just think this is one of the most incredible things that has ever happened,” she said. “I’m so proud of Baylor. They’ve been wonderful partners for the city.”