As an architect and designer of collegiate and NFL stadia as well as both collegiate and professional training facilities, I spend a lot of time talking about the fan experience, site decisions and programmatic decisions. However, some may be surprised to know…
CHALLENGE. When Populous designers began work on McLane Stadium, they realized this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the university to bring football back to campus in a way that would forever change the face of the university. After playing off-campus at Floyd Casey Stadium for more than 60 years, Baylor University announced in Spring of 2012 plans to open a new, on-campus stadium. Scheduled to open for the 2014 football season and situated adjacent to I-35 and the Brazos River, the new McLane Stadium needed to serve as the front door of the university as it would be visible to the 43 million people who pass by on I-35 each year. The $250 million facility had to visually and physically represent Baylor’s campus, melding with the existing architecture on campus to create a building that could only be home to the Baylor Bears.
The design team for Baylor was challenged to infuse the experiences of campus into the design of the stadium in order to capture the spirit and characteristic traits that make the Baylor campus unique. The resulting stadium encompasses the university’s short and long-term goals, seamlessly integrating the stadium on campus and within the city of Waco while creating a great fan experience for Baylor football.
INNOVATION. The stadium’s location on campus and the traditions of the university’s football program were the driving force behind the design process for the Populous collegiate stadium architects. The location on the Brazos River will provide unique tailgating opportunities and is expected to attract visitors year round with an outdoor amphitheater and walking path that links to the city’s pedestrian trails. The university’s heritage, coupled with research on the fan base and a unique blend of revenue generation, resulted in a collegiate stadium design that is distinctly representative of the university and is as viable as it is visually appealing. With support from the city of Waco, who recognized the significant impact on revenue and traffic the stadium would have on its downtown, the stadium capitalizes on the specific needs of the university and site positioning of the new stadium. From loge boxes to club seating to a prominent place for the Baylor Line, this strategic approach will result in a venue that shapes the fan experience for each and every person who enters the stadium while elevating the university’s brand on a national level. The resulting stadium will be one of the most beautiful in collegiate football, tying together a campus and a city.
IMPACT. When McLane Stadium opens in the fall of 2014, it will help revitalize downtown Waco, help spur development along the Brazos Riverfront, attract visitors to Baylor’s campus and create a cohesive and unique experience for fans. The stadium will connect a region, a city and a campus around the traditions, culture and passion of Baylor’s football program.