It's the news we've all been waiting for, Baylor fans. Last night, the Baylor Board of Regents voted unanimously for conditional approval of the new stadium project on the banks of the Brazos River. The only thing standing in the way of outright approval now is that second vote of the Waco City Council, which will almost certainly approve the $35 million investment of TIF funds. According to the article linked, Baylor still needs somewhere between $20 and $40 million in private donations to fund the project, but has already met almost 80% of its fundraising goals in the last few months thanks to significant donations from affluent alumni.
From the initial announcement of the project, I've heard that Baylor targeted an August groundbreaking in order to complete construction in almost exactly 24 months. That would make the stadium complete for Baylor's first home game in 2014, Baylor's stated target. With the investment by the city making up a huge portion of the funds needed for infrastructure and site development work, Baylor fans should rejoice in the knowledge that this stadium is happening. Baylor football will have a new state-of-the-art home on the Brazos unrivaled in beauty. Today is a great day!
UPDATE: In case you don't have it bookmarked, here is the official website for Baylor's new stadium project, complete with renderings, video, and other information.
UPDATE 2: Baylor released new renderings on their facebook page with a few interesting features/changes. My thoughts are below the jump.
UPDATE 3: Facebook-less people can click on the gallery over at BaylorBears.com to see the same renderings, as well as a pretty interesting logo designed for the stadium.
- The first thing that jumped out at me is that the Letterman's Club area is entirely gone, probably for cost reasons. If you recall, there was a glass-enclosed building built onto the right side of the horseshoe that jutted out toward the river. You can see it in the older pictures, it's the part that curves slightly opposite the curvature of the stadium roof itself. I had heard that it would cost something like $35 million in additional funds just for that structure, and it might be something that Baylor looks to do in the future. The space for it is still there, it's just not on the newest renderings.
- We never really got a good look before at the rest of the property across the river. We have it now, particularly in this schematic, which is the best I've seen showing the entire project. It looks like they've beefed up the parking considerably, added a lot more green space across the second foot bridge (from the stadium going across the inlet to the right, if you're looking at the picture), and added in the landscaping plans for the rest of the project. Everything looks good there. I imagine we'll see that green space used as intramural fields at some point.
- I'm not sure what the feature located just forward of the bridge in this picture is, but it might be a smaller gameday habitat for the bears from the looks of it. We've never gotten an exterior close-up of this endzone before, so that's good detail to see.
- I like the added parking since that was a major concern before. Baylor seemed to believe they could convince a vast portion of the attendees to park over by the baseball fields, but I never thought that was feasible. People from campus probably will just walk, but you were always going to need tailgating space (which seems to have been added on the far east side of the project, there are spots over there that look perfect for tailgating) and parking for people coming from out of town. That's a good move, Baylor.
- The shots from the highway look perfect. Baylor described this stadium as the new "doorstep" of Baylor's campus, a perfect metaphor for what this stadium could be. Coming from the north, it will be the first shot of Baylor you get, and it will be amazing.