Baylor, the defending Big 12 champion, opens its season in the new McLane Stadium on Aug. 31 with a matchup against former Southwest Conference rival SMU. Other home games this season are Northwestern State on Sept. 6, TCU on Oct. 11, the homecoming game against Kansas on Nov. 1, Oklahoma State on Nov. 22 and Kansas State on Dec. 6. As opening day approaches, questions about seating have grown. Below, Doug McNamee, Baylor assistant athletic director for premium seating & services, discusses some things fans should know about the seating process. In the Summer issue of Baylor Magazine, readers will find a complete insider’s guide to McLane Stadium and the game-day experience.
McLane Stadium will seat a capacity crowd of 45,000—approximately 8,000 seats are reserved for students—the Baylor Line, upper division students, the Golden Wave Marching Band and recruits who are considering Baylor. Suites, Loge and Club seating are already sold out and the process of seat selection by Baylor Bear Foundation members and season ticket holders began April 10 and will run through June. A limited number of single-game tickets will become available in late summer.
You can’t compare a seat at Floyd Casey to one at McLane Stadium. This is like comparing apples and oranges. “When looking at seating, you have to consider the whole picture, which is the overall total experience,” McNamee said. “All seats are closer to the field. You have better amenities. You’ll likely be sitting in a better seat. The overall experience is superior. It’s not even comparable. The fans haven’t experienced that, so they don’t know how to reference it. We understand people want equivalent seats, and equivalent isn’t as easy as the west side 50-yard line. It’s a different way to compare.”
Historically, the west side of Floyd Casey Stadium was the default “home” side, much like high school stadiums. “No big-time college in America has a home side and visitor’s side,” McNamee said. “Tell me which side at the University of Texas is the home side? Maybe right behind where the UT bench is a home section, but it’s not a high school stadium.”
As Baylor transitions into the new McLane Stadium on the Brazos River, McNamee said, “The entire stadium has to be Baylor. In previous years, people have been hesitant about sitting on the east side because of the sun. That’s understandable,” he said. “But, we have to occupy the whole stadium. We have to provide a complete Baylor atmosphere across both sides of the stadium. We’re going to need donors and fans sitting on the 50-yard line on the east side. And guess what? Those people sitting there are going to love it. They’re going to have a great seat.”
Consider this: At Floyd Casey, there were no chair-back seats on the east side. At McLane Stadium, there will be over 2,600 chair-back seats on the 200 and 300 levels. “There are some definite perks to being on that side,” McNamee said. “Those seats are going to be closer, in general, to parking. You’re going to get a better value in terms of where you can select on that side, and they’re going to be great seats over there.”
Depending on your past giving to Bear Foundation, you may or may not have an on-site parking pass. The only lots with assigned parking spots are lots A and B. And they will be designated with numbers, not donor names like at Floyd Casey.
McNamee notes that the traffic consultants that made all the decisions regarding parking actually discouraged all assigned parking. “Just from a flow-of-traffic standpoint, they said you don’t want to do any assigned parking. We just didn’t feel like that was a reasonable option for us. So, we compromised. Lots A and B are assigned parking, and then C and D are for reserved, but unassigned spots.
“I know there are going to be a lot of people that previously had an assigned spot that will be disappointed. But our rationale on that is we want to get you in and out as fast as possible.” Off-site parking will also be available at the Dutton Avenue Garage, Ferrell Center and limited spots at the Baylor Law School. “And all three of those spots, while it might be a little longer walk than they’re accustomed to, will have their own advantages,” McNamee said. “They will be easier to get in and out of, so there will be some upside to those as well.”
Shuttle services will be provided from the off-site lots “that gets them a little farther down University Parks, but it won’t take them all the way to the stadium. You’re still going to have to walk across the bridge,” McNamee said.
There also will be handicap accessible parking at the BRIC—the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative, housed in the old General Tire plant—with shuttle service and drop-off in front of the stadium.