Just a few minutes ago, Baylor released another significant fundraising announcement related to the construction of our new football stadium across the Brazos River; Walter and Sheila Umphrey, who you may know as the biggest single donors for the construction of Baylor Law School's present campus a few years ago, bought the naming rights for the planned bridge over the river leading up to the new stadium. That bridge, which will be called the Umphrey Bridge, is one of the signature architectural features of the stadium plans and will provide access to the stadium from the campus side of the Brazos.
The Umphreys' gift is the second major donation in the last few weeks after that of another distinguished graduate of Baylor Law, John Eddie Williams, who, along with his wife, made the second-largest capital donation in Baylor Athletics history. From the sound of it, this donation will be somewhat smaller than that one or the one by Drayton McLane, but I'm obviously not complaining one bit. Every step we take to get closer to the stadium being built is a step in the right direction.
If you click on the link in the posted tweet, you can find out more about Mr. and Mrs. Umphrey, their connections to Baylor, and the strategic plan for the stadium itself. My understanding is that a relatively significant sum-- around $10 million -- has already been spent clearing and preparing the site for construction. The official groundbreaking could take place as soon as this summer and should if Baylor hopes to meet its goal of playing the first home game of 2014 inside the new home of Baylor Football.
If there is someone you want to thank for this other than the Umphreys themselves, thank Art Briles, our head coach. I know for a fact that he has spent a significant amount of time in the Beaumont area (where Umphrey lives and practices) wooing potential donors. It seems those efforts may have paid off in a big way, and now we have the Umphrey Bridge guiding fans across the Brazos to Baylor Stadium, where our Bears will play on John Eddie Williams Field. Awesome.