By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
In December, Baylor University and the City of Waco announced an initial agreement to collaborate on the site of the university’s new basketball arena, the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion.
The $185 million facility and future home to Baylor’s championship basketball teams will be located along the Brazos River, adjacent to Clifton Robinson Tower and across I-35 from McLane Stadium.
The pavilion is part of the first phase of the city’s plans to expand Waco’s Riverfront district. The first phase is expected to add more than $160 million in investment to build condos and restaurants and add parking. The overall Riverfront development project could result in nearly $700 million in investment in the area.
The Foster Pavilion includes a 245,000-square-foot facility with seating for 7,000 fans and additional standing for 500 fans, compared to the 10,200 seats available in the 150,000-square-foot Ferrell Center. While the new arena will have fewer seats, the smaller number means the pavilion is always packed for games and makes for a louder environment.
The facility will also include a development center for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, including practice courts, screening rooms, team lounges and academic spaces. Construction is expected to begin in June 2022. The pavilion is expected to open in January 2024, while the Development Center is expected to open in April 2024.
Mack Rhoades, Baylor vice president and director of peer activities, said the new pavilion is an elite facility because of the combination of the riverside location, size, classic field house design, and technology such as the two 2,000 square feet of video boards located on either side of the track.
“Fans will be on top of the action,” Rhoades said. “We believe it’s the perfect size for us and that it gives us the ability to complete it every match, whether for men or women. From a capacity point of view, there are certainly facilities that we can compare it to, but in terms of setting, being able to place it [the pavilion] right on the river, that is really unbeatable.” The customer review has been automatically translated from Dutch.
Rhoades said that after the new pavilion is built, portions of the Ferrell Center occupied by the basketball teams will be renovated to house Baylor’s volleyball team and the acrobatics and tumbling team, giving both teams a permanent home.
Rhoades said the pavilion construction represents a great opportunity for both Baylor and Waco, as it forms the core of the development in downtown Waco.
“As for the new development for downtown, think about the basketball games and other events and then what’s currently being built: retail, residential, office space, new hotels, parking garages, Riverfront walkway redevelopment, farmers’ market, new restaurants,’, said Rhodes. “So [the pavilion] serves as the core of all that activation and growing downtown Waco and simply makes it a destination for the Waco community and beyond Waco.”
Paul Cain, assistant city manager for the city of Waco, said via email that the pavilion will host events such as concerts and comedy shows, in addition to hosting local UIL, TAPPS, TAAF and AAU sporting events and the McLennan Community College- graduation. Under their current agreement, Baylor and the City of Waco have until March 1, 2022 to negotiate a definitive agreement to use the facility so that public events do not conflict with basketball games or other Baylor events.
Cain said the value of the relationship between Baylor and the city of Waco “cannot be overstated.”
“[Baylor’s] Nationally-ranked academic and athletic programs bolster Waco’s profile around the world,” Cain said. “Baylor’s students bring the light of innovation and creativity to our city and its alumni, especially the many who chose to remain in Waco after graduation to raise families and conduct business — further extending the community’s economic and social sectors. to develop.”
“Through the city’s investments in economic development, public safety, infrastructure and community services, the city is doing its part to make Waco a better place to live, work, play and receive education,” Cain said. . “By working together for our mutual benefit, the city and Baylor are creating a better Waco for all of its residents, visitors and students.”