For luxury suite holders at McLane Stadium, game day has all the comforts of home — and then some.
The stadium has 42 suites, 15 more than Floyd Casey Stadium, all of which feature high-end decor, premium food and hospitality service, and spectacular views of the football field.
“I think people are really going to be more comfortable,” said Todd Patulski, Baylor University’s deputy athletics director. “Certainly at Baylor University, it’s a very social environment. You want to be able to socialize. You want to be able to not only have an experience with the game, but you want to have an experience with the individuals you invite to your suite, so you need to have enough space that it’s not cramped.”
The most plush seats in the house can be found in the six Founders Suites. Those 800-square-foot boxes sit in prime stadium real estate, between the 30-yard lines and off the main lower concourse — an upgrade over typical suite placement in the uppermost levels of a stadium.
“If you could pick a spot on the map as far as where you would sit, the sight line from that height is just ideal, it’s at the top of the 100 level,” said Doug McNamee, associate athletics director for development. “Traditionally speaking, it would be the best location.”
The Founders Suites belong to donors who handed over lead gifts to finance the stadium, prominent Baylor alumni and benefactors such as business tycoon Drayton McLane, the stadium’s namesake; Baylor regent and insurance businessman Clifton Robinson; attorney and longtime Baylor benefactor John Eddie Williams, for whom the football field is named; Western Refining Executive Chairman and Board Chairman Paul L. Foster; XTO Energy Inc. co-founder and CEO Bob Simpson; and the Baylor Health Care System, to be used by Board Chairman Jim Turner.
Each of the Founders Suites was customized with furniture and finishes personally chosen by the owner. For example, one features green marble countertops and green tile floors, while another has black marble counters and dark wood floors and another has a personal restroom.
The suites have seating for up to 24, including three rows of cushy leather chairs overlooking the field, plus a lounge area surrounded by flat-screen TVs. The suites also have kitchen space where they will serve fine-dining cuisine prepared by the executive chef of Club Corp., which manages the stadium’s private Baylor Club and provides suite hospitality services.
Suite owners also have their own private garage on the first floor of the stadium, along with a private elevator to the suites. There’s a staircase leading to the suite level decked out in — what else? — green marble.
The plush amenities are meant to not only stand out against offerings at other Big 12 Conference stadiums, but also measure up to regional NFL venues like AT&T Stadium in Dallas. The private parking garage for the Founders Suites was even inspired by the Dallas Cowboys’ home, Patulski said.
“We’ve got Jerry’s World just up the road, and as much as we want to say we don’t have the $1.3 billion to spend that they did, some of the people that are buying our suites are also in suites in facilities like that, so you have to factor professional facilities into how you program it or from a construction standpoint,” Patulski said.
Although Baylor has not disclosed the amounts donors gave to secure Founders Suites, those gifts generally topped $10 million, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said. The owners have a 20-year lease on the suites that includes game tickets, parking, and food service.
In addition to the Founders Suites, McLane Stadium also has 36 premium suites on the upper concourse. Those range in price from $1 million to $3 million, which covers both a capital donation toward the stadium’s construction as well as costs of food service. The premium suites are leased for seven, 12 or 15 years, depending on the size and location.
The premium suites are between 400 square feet and 500 square feet and seat up to 24 people, a significant increase in space over the 325-square-foot maximum suite size at Floyd Casey. Premium suite holders also share a private lounge for socializing and food and beverage service from Club Corp.
A new seating option at McLane Stadium is the loge box — 79 four- to 12-seat open-air boxes in-between the club seating area and suite level. Those seat holders also receive premium club food service along with a private TV and fridge.
Loge boxes required a minimum one-time capital donation of $85,000, plus annual costs of $3,000 per seat to cover ticket, parking and food service expenses.
Club level seats, which are on the second level of the stadium and come with access to food and amenities of the private Baylor Club on site, require a $5,000 to $25,000 initial capital donation plus fees of $1,500 to $2,000 per seat each year.
“If you didn’t want to get a suite but you didn’t want to be out in the club level, it’s in-between,” said Brian Nicholson, Baylor’s vice president for facility, planning and construction. “You’re outdoors, they have great views of the field. ... You’re a little bit isolated and you’ll have wait staff that would bring your food to the loges.”