BU chooses partners to manage new stadium

By Maleesa Johnson
Staff Writer

Dust will not have to settle on the seats of the new Baylor stadium as the venue will be open year-round for community events.

Baylor is partnering with SMG and ClubCorp to offer stadium services.

“The stadium itself is a partnership between the university and the city,” said Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications. “Baylor will be handling the management of our athletic events in the stadium, but for city events, we wanted to make sure there were well-known companies that could accommodate their needs in a first class manner.”

SMG is a business that manages venues. It provides services to stadiums, arenas, convention centers, performing art centers and other facilities. According to SMG’s official website, more than 230 venues are under their management.

Both SMG and ClubCorp’s services will be available to serve at non-Baylor events in the stadium. This is part of the agreement in the partnership between Baylor and Waco through the Baylor Waco Stadium Authority, a city-appointed board that will provide general oversight of non-Baylor events. SMG and ClubCorp are both licensed to serve alcohol and will do so during non-Baylor sanctioned events.

“Baylor contacted us through a company called Venue Solutions Group that was doing some work for them on the design of the stadium,” said Doug Thornton, SMG’s executive vice president for stadiums and arenas. “Once we had that initial contact, we developed a dialog with Baylor to see what they wanted in term of management of the facility.”

Staff from SMG have been talking with Baylor since last fall when Baylor sent an inquiry. SMG will be responsible for the overall management of the stadium. There will be three other entities that will play a significant role in the scope of services. Aramark Facility services, ClubCorp and Baylor Athletics will work together to run the various outlets of the stadium. These companies will report to SMG, as requested by Baylor. Thornton said Baylor hopes to make the stadium more available to the community with the help of SMG.

“The message that we received from the university was that this needs to be a community based stadium,” Thornton said. “They want to see it increase the economic activity of Waco by bringing in other events.”

The facilities SMG manages includes collegiate venues at Tulane University, Iowa State University, Fresno State University and others. However, Baylor Stadium will be the first college stadium managed by SMG.

ClubCorp will be responsible for the operation of a private member club within the Baylor Stadium. The executive vice president for ClubCorp Dave Woodyard said they approached Baylor with the idea of having a club in the new stadium.

“We’re in the club business and we have successful university clubs in a number of other stadiums here in Texas as well as other states,” Woodyard said. “So when we heard about the project being announced a year or two ago, that’s when we reached out to the university to suggest that maybe we could help them with a club in the stadium.”

ClubCorp has clubs in collegiate stadiums belonging to colleges such as Texas Tech University, The University of Texas at Austin and Boston College. ClubCorp is also responsible for the operation of major business clubs, country clubs and social clubs. Woodyard said the average time for developing and opening a club is 6-12 months. He said though the stadium is being built rapidly, the pre-planning of the club will enable ClubCorp to open the club on time.

“Now we’re at the right time, if you will, for everything to come together for the club to open at the same time as the stadium,” Woodyard said.

In addition to operating the club, ClubCorp will also be responsible for catering in the premium spaces in the stadium. The club will be available to reserve for meetings and events. Woodyard said he is expecting it to open a week or two before the first football game.