Largest financial gift in school history to fund new Baylor stadium

Baylor has announced a sizable financial gift from Bear alum and former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. that will spearhead the fundraising drive for a new on-campus football stadium built along the Brazos River--and judging from the newest artist's renderings of the proposed project released Tuesday, success on that fundraising trail might give the Bears one of the most spectacular stadiums in the country.

A statement issued by the Baylor athletic program provides some of the details of the new facility:

The new on-campus Baylor Stadium is expected to be built on a 93-acre site on Interstate 35, one of the nation's busiest highways, traversed by more than 42 million drivers annually. The stadium will hold 45,000 spectators, with the flexibility to expand to 55,000 in the future. It also will feature a bridge crossing the Brazos River and connecting the stadium to the campus, canopy shading for half of all seats throughout the day, open concourses with views directly into the stadium, suites, loge boxes, indoor and outdoor club seating, designated seating for Baylor students and the Baylor band, and an event center and Stadium Club for year-round use.

If that sounds impressive, the renderings -- a full set of which is available on the Bears' Facebook page -- aren't going to change that impression:


The Baylor statement says that "with a successful spring fundraising campaign, the stadium project could be completed in time for the first game in fall 2014." Reports have put the cost of the stadium as high as $250 million.

Baylor did not specify the amount of the donation by McLane and his family, but did confirm it was "the largest capital gift in university history."

Baylor president Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr) and head coach Art Briles were each effusive in their gratitude towards the McLanes--and in their confidence that the stadium will be completed sooner rather than later.

"[The McLanes'] significant leadership gift will secure Baylor's position among the nation's elite collegiate athletics programs, while providing our alumni, students and student-athletes a game day experience like none other in Baylor history," Starr said.

"The vision shown by both the McLane family and our University leadership will ensure continued success for our football program," said Briles. "I look forward to leading the Bears out of the tunnel and onto the field of the new Baylor Stadium."

We're guessing that plenty of Baylor fans -- and Drayton McLane -- are now looking forward to it every bit as fervently.

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