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March 13, 2012It's no longer talk. It's no longer an idea. It's going to happen.
Tuesday marked the signature day for the hopes of Baylor building an on-campus stadium. The University announced that it received a lead naming rights financial gift from well-known alum Drayton McLane.
While the figure was not disclosed, it is considered the largest financial gift in the history of the university. Stadium construction costs should figure to about $250 million.
Per the family's request, the stadium will be known as Baylor Stadium. Officials are looking for the stadium, which will sit off I-35 in the location where the Waco Hotel sits, to open in 2014.
"It adds a lot of momentum,'' Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw said. "I believe when people saw the rendering last November it went from being a concept to a vision. It's a significant, but we have a lot of work to do.''
Through the work of Populous, the university will adhere to the original design that was released back in November. Baylor Stadium As SicEmSports.com has reported, the seating capacity will be in the mid-40,000s (45,000 to be exact) with the flexibility to expand to 55,000.
The first of two defining features will be the bridge that bring fans over the Brazos but connect the stadium to the campus. The second will also be canopy shading for nearly half of the stadium. The open end portion of the horseshoe design will front the Brazos River.
At this point, the stadium will feature 40 luxury suites and 70-80 loge boxes. Besides McLane's donation, other major donors have committed to the project. McCaw said that the grass roots campaign hasn't begun yet but will soon. Appealing to its entire alumni base is idea that the University of Minnesota used when it built TCF Bank Stadium. It appealed to alums of all walks of life and received pledges that were in the $100s to the $1,000s. That stadium opened in 2009 and just celebrated its third season.
There remains the possibility that some type of corporate involvement from Central Texas companies. But the extent of the commitment remains unknown. However, it was always the university's first choice to have a lead donor come from an alum.
"Bold vision and belief culminated into reality thanks to Drayton McLane and family,'' Baylor coach Art Briles said. "Drayton's leadership will change the national brand of Baylor for generations."
It is likely that a groundbreaking will take place before the 2012 football season. Baylor is coming off of consecutive bowl appearances in 2010 and 2011 and produced Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Robert Griffin III.
SicEmSports.com publisher Todd Wills contributed to this report.