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Nov. 21, 1997

Almost half a century into its existence, Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium remains a premier facility

By Scott Karafin

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

Baylor University's football stadium has been constantly improved since its completion in 1950. Plans continue today to keep it among the best in the Big 12.

The Baylor Stadium Corporation was formed after World War II for the sole purpose of raising funds to build a football stadium for the university.

According to the 1996 Baylor University football media guide, the corporation was able to raise $1.5 million in time to move the Bears into Baylor Stadium in 1950.

The 48,500-seat stadium hosted its first game Sept. 30, 1950, a 34-7 Baylor victory over the Houston Cougars.

David Hawkins, executive director of the Baylor Bear Foundation, said the Bears played on natural grass until 1972, when most modern stadiums had already turned to AstroTurf as an incentive to lure the top athletes.

'We went to turf in the 70s as a recruiting tool,' he said.

With the disadvantages of AstroTurf now evident, natural grass has once again become the preferred playing surface, he said.

'We hope to go back to grass by next year,' he said. 'We just need to raise the funds.'

The goal of replacing the dilapidated wooden bleachers in favor of the modern aluminum bleachers took place over an eight-year span finally completed in 1981.

Baylor Stadium officially became Floyd Casey Stadium during the ceremonies of the 1988 homecoming game against Arkansas.

It was announced that longtime university supporters Carl and Thelma Casey contributed $5 million to a stadium renovation project in honor of the late Carl Casey's father, Floyd Casey.

This led to a new press box elevator, improved restrooms and concession stands and an improved All-Pro Turf playing surface.

The Carl and Thelma Casey Athletic Center opened in 1991. The state-of-the-art facility houses locker rooms, training rooms, weight rooms, a video studio, departmental offices and meeting room facilities.

Hawkins said the Baylor Bear Foundation started in 1934 as the Bear Club. Its mission remains the same -- to provide scholarships to student athletes in all 17 sports, men and women.

Hawkins said last year $3.7 million wasneeded for athletic scholarships and the Baylor Bear Foundation provided $1.6 million of that.

'Our goal is to provide those funds on an annual basis,' he said.

Bear Foundation members are eligible for seat options for the games, parking privileges and pre-game parties.

Hawkins said he thinks Floyd Casey Stadium is one of the best in the Big 12.

'I think its one of the prettiest stadiums compared to a lot of the ones I've seen,' he said. 'We probably have the best parking of any Big 12 school.'

Every aspect of Floyd Casey Stadium is comparable to other Big 12 school's, he said.

'Our north end zone complex will compare to anybody's,' he said. 'Our weight room is in the top three or four in the Big 12.'

Tom Stanton, athletic director, said his favorite part about the stadium is the architecture. He said the seats are all slanted towards the 50-yard line so everyone gets the best possible view.

'It's a great athletic facility,' he said. 'It's the perfect size.'

Stanton said improvements are always being planned.

'We want to renovate the current press box and figure out a way to build sky boxes and club seating.'

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