By Rebecca Flannery
Three percent of construction is all that remains before fans can enter the $266 million McLane Stadium to watch the Baylor Bears face off against Southern Methodist University, said Jeff Horn, the senior superintendent for Austin Flintco.
Horn said more than 400 workers will continue construction seven days a week until the first kickoff, scheduled for Aug. 31.
Brian Nicholson, associate vice president of operations and facilities, said McLane Stadium is being built with every generation of Baylor Bears – young and old, student and alumni – in mind.
“Every aspect of the stadium is better than the drawings” Nicholson said. “We couldn’t be more excited to let everyone see.”
Central features from Floyd Casey were taken into consideration for the new stadium including a lower section of seating squared away for the Baylor Line. Line members will have a path to run onto the field from one side of the stadium and exit through an other.
Todd Patulski, associate athletic director for finance and administration, said he wanted to keep the memory of Floyd Casey alive, starting with the Baylor Line.
“One of the most important features to keep was everything surrounding the student body,” Patulski said. “The first 13 rows designated in Baylor gold are for the Baylor Line and the 15 rows behind are for more students.”
The Baylor Golden Wave Band will also have their own seating near the north end zone, making for a quick on-and-off the field transition during halftime and a louder sound to fill the stadium.
Another aspect of McLane Stadium that aims to make the viewing experience more enjoyable includes a pavilion-covered seating area, which shields the entire third tier. There will also be an increase in bathroom locations throughout the stadium.
Players, coaches and potential recruits will also enjoy several upgrades, Patulski said.
The Baylor dressing room contains 120 lockers, each furnished with rich wood, stainless steel and added space for equipment. Complete with 14 large speakers, a Baylor University emblem on the ceiling and access to a hydrotherapy room, the locker room isdesigned to shock and awe, Horn said.
“It’s a great looking locker room,” Horn said. “These are some of the most upscale we’ve ever built.”
Patulski said the recruitment room, which has a view overlooking the football field, is a special feature Baylor hopes will give them an edge with recruitment.
“Coach Briles was involved in the design of the recruitment room,” said Patulski. “Its something we think is pretty unique and spectacular. Prospects will come in here and be able to hear and see what Baylor is all about.”
But fans won’t have to step inside McLane to see the improvements. Increased tailgating spots, a lagoon, a dock for 16 boats and free WiFi access around the stadium are just a few of the game day changes added for tailgaters.
Project managers said all that remains to be done is up to architects and the university as far as minor adjustments. A preview of the stadium will take place a week before the first game during the annual Traditions Rally, which is set for Aug. 28 and is open to members of the public, students and faculty.
Next on the agenda for project planners, especially with the potential for water taxis and free downtown parking, is transportation development, Nicholson said.
Jim Heley, senior project manager for Austin Flintco, said the toughest part right now for his crew is trying to keep the morale up after having worked for so long.
“It’s like we’re at the five yard line, just trying to punch it in,” Heley said.