By Shehan Jeyarajah
For the first time ever, Waco will host the No Limits Monster Truck World Championship at McLane Stadium. The show, which starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, is one of the most visible attempts of Baylor to try and make McLane a family venue.
Scott Neal, general manager McLane Stadium’s SMG management group, sat down with the Lariat to discuss scheduling monster trucks at McLane Stadium, what safeguards are in place to protect the venue and what’s on the horizon for the stadium.
Q: What went into the decision to bring monster trucks to McLane Stadium?
A: When SMG was brought in and signed a management contract with the facility, our goal and charge was to bring in events outside of football. Events include Ribfest and some other family events. One of the events we did promise when we signed the contract was monster trucks. Since day one, we’ve been working to bring monster trucks to the stadium. We have a promoter we’ve worked with before so we contacted that promoter, they were interested in doing the event so we signed a contract, sold tickets to the event and here we are.
Q: What is the idea behind bringing an event like this to the stadium?
A: Obviously if you build a stadium at this size and expense, you want to use it more than six days a year. The way that we understand it, they wanted to maximize use of the facility.
Q: What safeguards are in place to protect the stadium?
A: Obviously the turf is our biggest concern. We have several layers of protection under there. We’ve worked with the turf manufacturer and a distributer of field covers and other SMG staff that manage stadiums. We brought the best resources we have and believe we have used the correct layers based off the correct practices to protect the turf.
Q: Do you think there will be any long-term effects on the stadium from this event?
A: We do not foresee that. As I said, we used the best practices. Obviously there will be a lot of dirt throughout the stadium. The trucks will drive over and pick up a lot of dirt. We’ll have cleaning crews going through and cleaning up the stadium in the days following the event. That’s what we see as the biggest cleanup, is just picking up the dirt.
Q: Is this an effort by the school to reach out to the surrounding community?
A: Our contract is actually with the Baylor-Waco Stadium Authority. So obviously with this event, we’re trying to make it a community event. We’re not just looking locally, but also regionally. We’re not just looking at Waco, but between Austin and Dallas.
Q: What other events has SMG looked at bringing in?
A: We just did the rib festival. We have done some charity things. We’ve worked with various community organizations and we’ve done Heart Walk. Now, we’re working with concert promoters to bring music and look at several other festivals.
Q: What exactly is SMG’s role when it comes to the stadium?
A: The stadium opened in August of 2014 and we started involvement about a year before the stadium was opened. At that point, it was working on some operations and booking events. It’s our job to make sure the building runs operationally and to manage outside events.
Q: How exactly is McLane Stadium managed?
A: The building is owned by Baylor University and it’s leased to the Baylor-Waco Stadium Authority throughout the year. Its job is to basically bring events outside of football. Baylor University leased the stadium to the BWSA and retain several days for personal use, primarily for football but also as they request.
Q: How is the monster truck event looking for this weekend?
A: We’re pleased and have great weather coming in. We’re optimistic of the final outcome. We’ll be selling until intermission of the event. You can buy them now on Ticketmaster, by phone, at Walmart or at our box office.