Daniel C. Houston
Baylor’s efforts to explore building a new on-campus football stadium were bolstered last week when the university announced the largest capital gift in school history to help fund the project.
Drayton McLane Jr., Baylor graduate and former chairman and CEO of the Houston Astros, and his wife, Elizabeth, offered an undisclosed amount of money as a leadership gift to kick off a fundraising campaign to cover part of the $250 million estimated stadium cost.
Prior to the McLane donation, Baylor’s largest capital gift amounted to $20 million in 1998 to construct the Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center.
“Baylor is at an incredible point right now to be in the Big 12, and they’re the only major Division 1-A school that does not have a stadium on campus,” McLane told the Lariat Monday after speaking on campus at the invitation of Baylor’s Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity. “We needed to move forward and give a gift where others could follow.”
Administrators intend to name the new facility Baylor Stadium at the McLanes’ request.
While Baylor administrators hope to account for a significant portion of the stadium cost with donations, they are prepared to seek a variety of revenue sources to make the project a reality, according to Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman, director of media communications.
“It’s too early to say anything with certainty,” Fogleman wrote in an email to the Lariat, “but we would expect that the entire project will include some combination of private philanthropy and bond financing, as well as public support.”
Nicholas Joos, executive associate athletics director for external affairs, also stressed the importance of community contribution toward the stadium cost, noting the McLane donation would not single-handedly supply Baylor with the resources to fund the project.
“We are actively fundraising for the project, so we are deeply grateful for the leadership gift provided by Drayton McLane and his family, for their generosity,” Joos said. “But in order to make this happen, we would need all of Baylor Nation to participate.”
Although the university has begun asking for financial donations in addition to the lead gift, Joos said members of the Baylor community could also support the stadium project in the long run by purchasing tickets or renting suites when they become available. One of the stadium features the university is exploring is the possibility of extending the student section across the length of the field rather than its current spot spanning roughly half, Joos said. He said this could create a more hostile atmosphere for opponents at both ends of the field, although the idea remains conceptual and is subject to change.
Despite his involvement with Baylor’s capital investments, McLane spent his most prominent appearance on campus Monday addressing a crowded Kayser Auditorium filled with students seeking insight into his business philosophy and recommendations on how to begin a successful career.
McLane advised the students in attendance to found their careers on a firm foundation of principles, reach out to people in the organization at all levels, display respect, and temper the excesses of success while coping with the difficulty of failure. He also said the business students in attendance should remove mental barriers to taking educated investment risks.