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Waco City Council Approves $35 Million for New Baylor Stadium

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April 19, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Detail view of a shovel during the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new San Francisco 49ers stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
April 19, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Detail view of a shovel during the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the new San Francisco 49ers stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

This is one of those cases where the title basically tells you everything you want to know. Yesterday, the Waco City Council voted unanimously to approve the recommendation from the TIF (ignore the date in the article, it is incorrect) to support Baylor's on-campus stadium project with $35 million over the next ten years. This is the first of two votes on the issue-- the second and final vote will take place in two weeks-- and a huge step in the right direction for getting the stadium built. In the wake of this announcement, Baylor's Board of Regents is expected to take action on the issue at their regularly-schedule meeting this Friday. That could include a formal commitment to funding and building the stadium and an announcement of a date for a groundbreaking ceremony.

In case you are concerned about the prospect of public moneys supporting a private project, KCEN reports:

"This money does not come from the city budget, it does not come from the county budget, or the school district, it is money that's already designated to be reinvested in this loan and approved by the property owners in the zone," said Waco Mayor Malcom Duncan.

Mayor Duncan stressed these funds won't come out of taxpayers' pockets.

"The money that's being contributed from the tax increment district is actually money that's paid for by the property owners in the district, its not being taxed on the citizens of Waco, this money has been accumulated in that fund for 30 years we got another 10 years of life before it expires," said Mayor Duncan.

We won't know for sure until the BOR makes a formal announcement, but I'd say the chances of this stadium being built went from ~85% to something closer to 99% with this partnership between Baylor and Waco. Several prominent Baylor alumni have stepped up in recent months with significant commitments, but I've heard that many involved in the decision-making were still wary of financing such a huge portion of the stadium cost. Baylor has taken on a significant amount of debt in the last decade to build and modernize much of the campus, leading some to believe this project would stretch the school past its responsible limits. That makes the City of Waco's decision to provide 14% of the total cost basically a godsend, as well as the biggest indication ever of the strengthening bonds between Baylor and her surrounding community.

UPDATE: It's behind their paywall, but the Waco Trib has quotes from several City Council members about the proposed stadium and their support for the project. All are very excited about the potential for the City of Waco and the surrounding area.