As you’ve likely heard by now, a generous gift from Baylor Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane, BBA ’58, and his wife, Elizabeth, has given the university a good start towards its planned on-campus football stadium.
The design of the stadium — which has reminded some of a European-style soccer arena — has folks all over the country ooh-ing and ahh-ing. (CBS Sports said it might be “one of the most spectacular stadiums in the country,” NBC called it “breathtaking,” and Dave Campbell’s Texas Football could only say “Whoa.”) Many Baylor fans are already making plans to tailgate by boat (sail-gating?) on the banks of the Brazos adjacent to the stadium.
The name of the new facility — “Baylor Stadium,” chosen at the McLanes’ request — has also resonated with many Bear fans who have noted the McLanes’ humility in letting the stadium simply advertise the Baylor name, rather than their own. Many recall that Floyd Casey Stadium was called by the same name for the first four decades of its existence, and some have missed the moniker.
[WATCH/LISTEN: Yahoo! Sports' take on the news || Director of Athletics Ian McCaw (part one and two) via 1660 ESPN Radio || KWTX talks to McCaw, McLane and President Ken Starr]
The stadium is planned for the intersection of I-35, one of the nation’s busiest highways, and the Brazos River, the longest waterway in the state of Texas. Current plans call for it to seat 45,000 with the flexibility to be expanded to 55,000 in the future. A pedestrian bridge would span the Brazos from campus to the stadium, allowing students, alumni and other fans to freely walk to and from the grounds on game day. The stadium would return Baylor football to campus for the first time since 1949.
The McLanes’ gift – the largest capital gift in Baylor history — is certainly very, very generous, but will cover only a portion of the stadium’s cost (estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million). It will still take a strong showing of financial support from the Baylor family to make the stadium a reality. A successful spring fundraising campaign could allow the stadium to be completed as early as 2014.
Sic ’em, McLane family and Baylor football!