Baylor Regents Vote to Move Forward with Baylor Stadium Construction Pending Favorable Waco City Council Vote Aug. 7
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WACO, Texas (July 20, 2012) - The Baylor University Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday night to move forward with construction of the University's $250 million football stadium complex, pending a favorable final vote by Waco's City Council on Aug. 7. The Baylor Stadium project is expected to help stimulate riverfront development, revitalize downtown Waco and bring jobs and economic development to the region.
The vote by Baylor Regents followed very favorable discussion and enthusiastic public comment at a meeting of the Waco City Council on July 17. At that meeting the Council voted unanimously in support of a $35 million public contribution which was endorsed without dissent earlier this month by the downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Zone board. The Council will take the second of two required votes next month and is expected to affirm its original vote at that time.
The TIF funds would cover a portion of public infrastructure around the stadium, such as roads, construction of a pedestrian bridge to provide access across the Brazos River, development of a new marina, the relocation of sewer and electric transmission lines, and water, sewer and drainage facilities to serve the site.
"We are grateful for the unanimous support of the TIF board and Waco City Council," said Baylor Regent Chair Richard Willis, BBA '81, MBA '82. "The Baylor Stadium complex will be a tremendous asset for both Baylor and the greater Waco community. We're proud to be partnering with the city in this remarkable project."
Since March, the University has received three major gifts for Baylor Stadium from prominent alumni Elizabeth and Drayton, BBA '58, McLane Jr.; Sheridan and John Eddie, BBA '76, JD '78, Williams Jr.; and Sheila and Walter, BBA '59, JD '65, Umphrey. These leadership gifts have given the University a strong start toward the $250 million needed to construct the facility.
A successful fundraising campaign this spring and summer, along with approved TIF funding and between $100 to $120 million in Baylor-issued bonds, will allow construction to begin this fall and the stadium complex to be completed in fall 2014. Baylor played its first football game on campus in 1899 but has played in an off-campus stadium since 1936 and in Floyd Casey Stadium, its current home, since 1950.
"The momentum that has formed around the football stadium and community events complex is spectacular," said Baylor President Ken Starr. "We are humbled that our vision for this facility has been embraced so enthusiastically by generous and dedicated Baylor alumni, and our faithful partners in the city. The project has captured the imagination of those who can envision the transformative effect that something of this significance can have on our University and on our community. We have every expectation of continued fundraising success and a favorable vote on Aug. 7, given the strong support already demonstrated by our alumni, local leaders and community members."
Baylor Stadium is expected to be built on a 93-acre site at the intersection of Interstate 35, one of the nation's busiest highways, and the Brazos River, the longest waterway in the state of Texas. The stadium will hold 45,000 spectators, with the flexibility to expand to 55,000, and will feature a bridge crossing the Brazos connecting the stadium to the campus.
Baylor also announced the contractor for the Baylor Stadium project is a partnership between Austin Commercial-Flintco LLC. The companies have worked on such Big 12 football facilities as Oklahoma State's Boone Pickens Stadium, Oklahoma's Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium and TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium. The architect for the project is Kansas City, Mo.-based Populous, which has designed several stadiums, including Yankee Stadium and the new football stadium at the University of Minnesota.
"This project will serve as a catalyst for driving development in the riverfront area, which will generate strong, positive, long-term economic benefits to downtown and the city," said Reagan M. Ramsower, Ph.D., senior vice president for operations and chief financial officer at Baylor. "We look forward with great excitement and enthusiasm to this extension and expansion of Baylor's proud partnership with our beloved hometown of Waco."
"Baylor Stadium will be the most modern, fan-friendly college football facility in the nation, and it will ensure that the Bears are a major player in college football for decades to come," said Ian McCaw, director of athletics at Baylor. "I am grateful to Baylor's lead donors, Board of Regents, President Starr and Senior Administration, along with the leaders in the City and County for making it a reality.
"The economic impact and job creation that will result from the stadium will improve the quality of life in our community and impact our citizens for years to come," he added.
In other business during the board's summer meeting, Baylor Regents approved a new joint degree program in the School of Education: the Bachelor of Science in Education/Master of Public Health in Community Health Education (BSEd/MPH). Joining together two existing programs, the joint BSEd/MPH degree program will allow students to obtain a bachelor's and master's degree in five years instead of the traditional six-to-seven years. Qualified students will complete 124 hours for the BSEd and 42 hours for the MPH, with up to 15 credits of course work counting toward both degrees. The joint program also will require a 400-hour internship for the undergraduate portion of the joint degree.
"The completion of an MPH degree is recognized worldwide as an indication that a health professional has been trained to address the health issues of people across socioeconomic, political and physical environments," said Jon M. Engelhardt, Ph.D., dean of the Baylor School of Education. "Students who complete both the undergraduate community health degree and the MPH degree through this joint program will be well-trained and highly marketable to obtain a job on the local, national and international level in all aspects of community/public health. Also, both Baylor programs are service-oriented and provide a platform through which Christian service and faith and learning can be used to impact a global community."
In addition, students will engage in activities outside the classroom, such as community health fairs, clinics for the underserved, and health education in Brazil, Uganda, Peru and other countries.
Also during the summer board meeting, Regents voted to increase next year's undergraduate tuition by 6.5 percent for 12 hours or more during the fall 2013 and spring 2014 academic year. With its flat-rate tuition plan, Baylor's tuition will be $16,287 per semester or $32,574 for the 2013-2014 academic year. Tuition for graduate and professional programs will increase similarly. The general student fee will increase 8.58 percent to $1,699 per semester or $3,398 for the 2013-2014 academic year. Room and board rates for undergraduates will increase by 5 percent and 4.61 percent, respectively.
Baylor's tuition and required fees remain lower than peer private institutions in Texas, including Rice, SMU and TCU. Baylor's tuition also remains well below those of most private universities outside of Texas, such as Duke, Emory, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, Stanford, Tulane, USC, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
Baylor's 2013-2014 budget will continue to support access to a Baylor education by providing financial aid packaging to families and students who demonstrate financial need, with an increase of $13.3 million to support merit and need-based scholarships, graduate assistantships and scholarships for graduate and professional students.
"More than 95 percent of Baylor's freshmen receive some form of financial aid, and we are providing greater financial assistance to more students than any other time in our history," Willis said. "The tuition increase will help ensure that we have the financial resources needed to provide the exceptional Baylor education that is expected by our students and their families while the additional financial assistance offered by the University will help us reach out to students and families in need and recruit students who will strengthen the academic caliber of our student body."
Baylor also will continue to offer affordability scholarships, a student-led initiative enacted by the board in fall 2011, which will provide about $4 million to assist successful continuing students with financial need. The President's Scholarship Initiative will provide approximately $1 million a year towards student scholarships.
In addition to providing students with the highest quality Christian education, the increase will allow Baylor to support its current operations, provide for important new faculty and staff hires and a 3 percent merit raise pool for faculty and staff, fund initial components of the University's new strategic vision Pro Futuris, and maintain a growing physical plant.
The board's summer meeting also included new Regent orientation, as well as presentations for the entire board from each of Baylor's 11 academic units, a tour of the under-construction Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), Regent committee meetings and a dinner at the Roosevelt Ballroom in downtown Waco with Waco city, county, school district and college officials as special guests.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.