• Give Light projects: New basketball fieldhouse

    Last fall, Baylor announced the launch of “Give Light” — a $1.1 billion fundraising campaign to support the university’s academic strategic plan, Illuminate. Among the campaign’s priority capital projects is the construction of a new basketball fieldhouse, which would in turn allow the Ferrell Center to be renovated to better serve Baylor’s volleyball and acrobatics & tumbling programs.

    A decade ago, Baylor administrators debated the pros and cons of renovating Floyd Casey Stadium versus building a new home for Baylor football. Similar conversations about Baylor basketball have led to a similar conclusion — that a new fieldhouse would be the best solution.

    Early plans call for the facility to be built along the Brazos River, very close to where the Ferrell Center sits today. One goal of the new arena is to give the Bears and Lady Bears the best home court advantage possible. Initial designs (seen in the video below) include better sightlines, with fans closer to the court; a slight decrease in capacity (again, similar to the Floyd Casey/McLane Stadium move); and new thoughts on where students might sit in relation to the court, to best maximize the energy they bring.

    Moving Baylor’s basketball programs into a new facility would then open up space at the Ferrell Center — locker rooms, practice courts, strength and conditioning facilities, etc. — for the volleyball and A&T programs. (And that, in turn, would free up more space in Rena Marrs McLean Gym, where those teams currently practice, for academic use.)

    How exactly the Ferrell Center would look in its new form is still to be determined. One idea would be for the court and seating to be adjusted in some way, so that it could be an appropriate size for volleyball, A&T, Commencement activities and other events. Another possibility would be for the existing courts in the Whetsel Practice Facility (connected to the Ferrell Center) to be combined into a 2,500-seat practice and competition venue.

    Other questions are also still being worked through — how parking would be impacted by building the fieldhouse in the Ferrell Center parking lot, what the move might mean for Rena Marrs McLean Gym (where volleyball and A&T currently practice), etc. The bottom line: There’s a lot of dreaming, brainstorming and conversation still happening about the entire project, but it’s fun to dream big.

    “We’re really excited about the prospect of building new, starting from ground zero, and really creating something’s that just very, very specific to basketball, and making it one of the best environments in the country,” says Baylor Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades. “This master plan, these facilities, are a big part of us being better, and us being elite. Our vision is to be one of the best in the country. There’s nobody who can give me a reason why we can’t be.”

    As the plans are developed, fundraising efforts will begin on the estimated $100 million needed for the entire project. Once that money is raised, work on the new facility can begin in earnest, followed by the renovation of the Ferrell Center.

    Want to help make this project a reality? Contact the Office of Advancement at 1-800-229-5678, option 4, to discuss opportunities to support construction.

    Sic ’em, Bears!

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    Baylor launches ‘Give Light,’ a $1.1 billion fundraising effort to support BU students & programs (Nov. 2018)