McLane Stadium is the gleaming new home of the Baylor Bears, but it’s built for much more than six home games a year.
From its inception, the $266 million stadium has been envisioned as a “community events complex” that will be used year-round.
The newly formed Baylor-Waco Stadium Authority, which has a board appointed jointly by the city and Baylor, will lease the stadium on non-game days. The authority will work with SMG, an internationally known venue management firm, to book high school football games, concerts, truck rallies and community events such as chili cook-offs.
SMG has already booked two high school games this fall and has booked a fundraiser for Communities In Schools that involves rappeling off the stadium, said Scott Neal, the firm’s general manager for McLane Stadium.
Philadelphia-based SMG manages venues such as New Orleans’ Superdome, Chicago’s Soldier Field and many convention centers and theaters worldwide, but this is its first college stadium contract. It will also work with Baylor athletics to run the stadium on game day.
In a separate agreement, the stadium authority also hired a private contractor to run the Baylor Club, a new private club inside the stadium. It will offer upscale dining and bar service to members on non-game days and premium food and beverage services to VIPs during games. Several hundred people have bought Baylor Club memberships, which cost from $20 to $120 per month.
Because the event center is leased by a third party, events held there outside of game days will not be considered Baylor events and will not be subject to the Baylor campus no-alcohol policy.
Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. has said the stadium’s potential as a community events complex helped persuade him to support a $35 million contribution from the downtown Tax Increment Finance Zone fund.
That contribution does not give the city of Waco any ownership of the stadium.
The city also will pay for shuttle service to and from downtown Waco on game days.