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By Paula Ann Solis
Baylor’s athletics department has invited the entire West community to the Big 12 opening game Oct. 5 free of charge. The Bears will take on West Virginia University’s Mountaineers.
“Baylor has been a great friend to the West community and we want them to know we won’t forget about them,” said Nick Joos, executive associate athletics director for external affairs.
Three thousand bench seats on the east end of Floyd Casey Stadium have been reserved, but more tickets will be available as requested, Joos said. West residents and first responders interested in attending the game can pick up a ticket from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 25-26 in the West Community Center.
Joos said the mission of reuniting West and the Baylor community less than six months after a fertilizer plant explosion killed 15, was spearheaded by Dr. Marty Crawford, Baylor alumnus and superintendent of the West Independent School District.
The kickoff time for the game has not yet been released, but Joos said it will be announced the week of the game.
This will not be the last effort by the Baylor athletics department to strengthen the relationship between West and Baylor, Joos said. He said he expects tickets for future basketball games and other sporting events to be made available to the West community.
Crawford, along with other West leaders and city officials, will join President Ken Starr on the field during halftime for a ceremony recognizing first responders and others who aided and continue to aid the city. A moment of silence will also take place in honor of the people who died during the explosion.
Several events, including a Czech dance performance by West residents, are planned for the halftime ceremony. Aside from the halftime show, Baylor football players will also show their support for West by wearing a special sticker on their helmet. Joos said the sticker design is not finalized yet, but may incorporate the image of a Trojan, the West High School mascot.
First Baptist Church of West senior pastor John Crowder said he is excited about the upcoming event, where he will represent West on behalf of the ministerial alliance. Crowder said he expects more than 100 members of his church to attend the game.
“Baylor has been such a tremendous blessing to us,” Crowder said. “We really could not have accomplished a lot of what we have without Baylor’s generosity.”
Crowder’s church was on the receiving end of Baylor’s $290,000 donation earlier this year. The funds were used to help continue the church’s efforts in demolishing homes destroyed by the explosion.
“More than half of the demolition work we did was possible because of the help from Baylor’s relief fund and the generous people who gave to it,” Crowder said.