With Baylor Univ.'s new McLane Stadium about 97% complete, crews are "working on the finishing touches, including some calculated to awe recruits even before the first game," according to a front-page piece by J.B. Smith of the WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD. A 7,500-square-foot oval locker room has "120 wood lockers finished in cherry-wood veneer, with an enormous, lighted 'BU' logo descending from the soaring ceiling." Around the corner is "a 'recruiting room' with picture windows affording an upclose, turf-level view of the game." Inside, recruits "will be able to watch giant-screen videos of past Baylor Bears glories, chow down at the snack bar or even play an Xbox if they crave more sensory overload." Compared with the '50s-era Floyd Casey Stadium, the new $260M McLane Stadium is a "quantum leap in gee-whiz." Stadium project officials on Wednesday "pointed out the cantilevered shade canopy around the stadium and the sinuous pedestrian bridge over the Brazos River as visual highlights of the project." Fans will be "able to see instant replays not only on a colossal video screen but also on their smartphones, thanks to special apps and a wireless network that Baylor will provide" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 7/3). ESPN.com's Dave Wilson wrote there "hasn't been much headway on the 'sailgating' spots, where fans will be able to dock their boat along the Brazos River." These will be "the site's most unique feature." Project managers said that there "will be 16 boat slips created, along with a boardwalk along the lagoon." They will be among the "last features installed before the Aug. 31 game against SMU" (ESPN.com, 7/2).
Churchill Downs Inc. on Tuesday announced that it has "received the requisite regulatory approval to transfer control" of Calder Casino & Race Course operations to The Stronach Group, the parent company of Gulfstream Park, according to Tim Dwyer of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The deal marks the "end of 43 years of independent racing operations" at Calder. The Stronach Group will "operate 40 days of live racing at Calder beginning in October under a lease agreement." As a condition of the lease, The Stronach Group will "maintain the track along with 430 stalls on Calder's grounds." The agreement lasts through '20, and live thoroughbred racing will "be conducted exclusively at Gulfstream beginning Friday through Oct. 4." Starting next week, Gulfstream will "feature a Thursday through Sunday racing schedule with Labor Day substituting for Thursday of that week." Beginning Oct. 8, Calder will "host live racing five days a week for eight weeks so as to meet the state mandated minimum requirement of live dates in order for Churchill Downs Inc. to operate a casino license" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/3). BLOODHORSE's Jim Freer noted changes at Calder "have already begun." Track management on Tuesday announced that it has "canceled live racing for July 4 and would discontinue simulcast operations in its grandstand and casino buildings at the close of business July 1" (BLOODHORSE.com, 7/2).