Texas Two Step: Baylor, Houston Open Up New Football Stadiums To Good Reviews
A sellout crowd of 45,733 on Sunday turned out to see Baylor open its new McLane Stadium against SMU, with "thousands creating a raucous atmosphere even before the game with tailgating and sailgating parties," according to John Werner of the WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD. Baylor President Ken Starr said that they "created an atmosphere that exceeded expectations" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 9/1). Werner noted sailboats were "out in force on the Brazos River and fans poured across the Umphrey Bridge for hours in anticipation for the historic game" at the $266M venue. Baylor coach Art Briles said, "I don’t think I’ve ever coached in a bigger game where I felt so indebted to so many people. We were ready and wanted to do well. The atmosphere prior to the game was everything I hoped it could be. No one can match this anywhere, and I felt we had a responsibility to maintain it.” The festivities "began hours before kickoff" as former Baylor QB Robert Griffin III’s statue "was unveiled before a large gathering." Griffin "seemed to be everywhere as he ran through the Baylor Line before the game, said the pregame prayer and fist-bumped" President George W. Bush at the coin toss (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 9/1). USA TODAY's George Schroeder wrote the 45,000-seat facility "comes with all the latest technological whirs and beeps," including a "protected lagoon for 'sail-gating'" outside the facility. Baylor AD Ian McCaw "summed everything up as 'creating game day pageantry'" (USATODAY.com, 9/1). In Texas, Olivia Messer noted parking and traffic control "went smoothly" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 9/1).
ON THE GUEST LIST: In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington noted Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also attended the game to "celebrate one of the prettiest little gems in college football" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/1). In Texas, Regina Dennis noted while plans for public events at McLane Stadium "continue to take shape, the facility quickly has become a destination spot for private gatherings and celebrations." More than 50 private events "have been booked at the stadium’s private Baylor Club, managed by operator ClubCorp." The club is "spread across four floors and features a grand ballroom and nine suite and lounge spaces that can accommodate small meetings, galas and parties." Baylor Club membership sales "have been double the original projections," as about 1,050 people "have purchased memberships, which provide access to the private dining service and members-only gatherings like 'victory brunches' after home games, holiday-themed dinners and basketball watch parties." Memberships "cost between $25 and $125 per month" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 9/1). Also in Texas, J.B. Smith noted the "ambition to make McLane Stadium a 'community event center' with year-round entertainment attractions" will cost Baylor "more than $450,000 in subsidies in the first year." The school is "leasing the stadium on non-game days to the newly created Baylor-Waco Stadium Authority, which is contracting with the venue manager SMG to put on private and public events, such as weddings, tractor pulls, cookoffs, high school games and big concerts" (WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD, 8/30).
COUGAR TOWN: In Houston, Jerome Solomon noted a crowd of 40,755 on Friday turned out to see Houston open the school's new $120M TDECU Stadium, a venue that "to some is priceless." UH lost to UTSA 27-7, but it still was a "wondrous evening" and a "huge day for the university." This is the "latest indicator that UH is moving into the big time" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/30).
WHAT IT BOILS DOWN TO: In Indiana, Sam King noted the new tailgate patio at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium "earned instant positive reviews." Gone are the "bleachers, replaced by patio tables and chairs and, more importantly, fans in an area that had become desolate in recent seasons." The $500,000 upgrade "could be just the first step in improving the south end zone" (Lafayette JOURNAL & COURIER, 8/31).