By Rebecca Flannery
Downtown Waco is attracting new methods of transportation to help fans get to McLane Stadium on game day.
Because of limited parking on Baylor’s campus during home games and downtown’s free street parking option, fans may have to walk a moderate distance to McLane Stadium.
However, Outdoor Waco’s general manager, Trinity Robb, thought of a way to ease the trek: pontoon boats.
Robb said he began the process of obtaining pontoon boats over the summer in hopes of using them to transport fans from downtown Waco to McLane Stadium on the Brazos River.
“We’re still deciding between how many and what kind of boats we’ll be able to use,” Robb said. “We’re still finalizing things. All summer we’ve been researching with the city and Baylor about licenses. There have been several different hurdles.”
While details are still in conversation, Greg Surber, Outdoor Waco’s boat manager, said boats will be on the water for the first game on Aug. 31.
“The idea is to be able to rent the boats out to those who want to use them – not only on game days but any day of the week,” Surber said. “You won’t even need to drive it yourself and worry about damage fees; we will have drivers available to captain the boat if that’s what you choose.”
The option to use the boats will give renters the ability to “sailgate” near McLane Stadium, or simply to have the means to get to the stadium on water and back downtown after the game.
Outdoor Waco has not set prices or decided what the age restriction will be to sign a rental agreement.
While the pontoons create opportunities for groups of 11 to 15 to travel, a more intimate transportation mode will be available in the form of a two-seater cab hooked up to a bike.
Rick Allen, a former Waco councilman, received approval from Waco officials last week to start a downtown pedicab service.
Allen said he got the idea after he visited cities San Antonio, Austin and New York City where he witnessed bike-drawn cabs toting pedestrians around for a more unique transportation experience.
“You know how after a while you keep telling everyone that someone should start something, and then you’re the one who has to start it? That was me,” Allen said. “I kept thinking, ‘I have all these ideas on how to improve downtown and no one’s doing it.’”
After a long process of getting the City of Waco to approve an ordinance for pedicabs, details were finalized and approved Aug. 19.
Allen is planning to employ independent contractors to drive his pedicabs for game days and whenever possible throughout the rest of the year. Contractors will rent the cabs from Allen and use them to transport fans and pedestrians downtown for tips.
“We figure that with our 12 pedicabs, with a maximum speed of 8 miles per hour, we can transport a maximum of 150 people per hour to the stadium,” Allen said. “By giving the drivers the ability to self-employ, it gives them a chance to go out and earn as much as they can and generate extra income.”
Allen said he imagines the busiest times for his pedicabs will be game days and weekends but he aims to not let the heavy influx of customers on those days lessen the experience.
“We only get one chance to make a first impression,” Allen said. “There will be a lot of disgruntled people if we don’t get it right the first time.”
Whether or not fans choose to use alternate methods to get to the stadium, trying to get mass amounts of people in a small amount of time from point A to point B is proving to be a creative process.