By Sarah Asinof | Page One Editor
Start to cherish the Ferrell Center as you know it, because it will be undergoing a renovation within the next few years. Baylor Athletic Director Mack Rhoades finally announced the “go ahead” for changes to be made to the Ferrell Center at the Big 12 Conference meetings in Irving in May.
The Ferrell Center, originally built in 1988, will be renovated following futuristic design plans. This design change stems from a desire to have an overall better atmosphere.
“I think, first and foremost, it is a facility that has become a bit antiquated in terms of fan experience,” Rhoades said. “We want to do something that is better for our fans, provides for a better atmosphere and a better game environment for our men’s and women’s basketball teams.”
In addition to creating a better atmosphere, Rhoades said the changes include the decision to downsize seating capacity in the new arena.
“Right now it seats over 10,000. We are looking to reducing that about, at least, 2,500 seats and again, creating a more intimate environment where fans are closer to the floor and provides a home court advantage,” Rhoades said.
While the athletic department has definitely chosen to reduce seating, there aren’t any firm design plans or proposals to complete the rebuild or renovation.
“Certainly there are enough people in the industry and collectively, myself and others, all the experience we have working with variety of groups out there — we have been able to have conversations and they have been able to provide input and what the cost could be,” Rhoades said.
Moving forward, the timeline is fluid and there are many factors that will decide what comes next, mostly concerning the amount of money it would take to renovate or rebuild the Ferrell Center.
Rhoades said he wants to have conversations with donors who would be interested exclusively in the Ferrell Center. He hopes it will help narrow down a more precise vision, and help the department determine whether to renovate the Ferrell Center or completely rebuild it.
Even though a rebuild may be more expensive, Rhoades added he would go that route if the outcome would be better.
While Rhoades has been busy planning the upcoming changes, Baylor students took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the announcement. In particular, Prior Lake, Minn., junior Brandon Helget wasn’t pleased with the news that Baylor was going to make changes to the Ferrell Center.
“Upgrade Moody Library for godssake… I swear, it’s so old there’s a couple of dead bodies in the bookstacks of the third floor,” Helget tweeted.
Helget said his frustration comes as a pre-med student who is constantly in the library and research facilities because of his rigorous studies.
“I believe Baylor should be allocating more money to support the general study body and ensuring that the general student gets what they pay for on campus,” Helget said. “The buildings that desperately need renovation are Moody and Jones Libraries and Collins and Kokernot dorms. I once saw a cockroach the size of my middle finger in Collins, and I’m pretty sure a ghost lives on the top floor.”
However, this past spring at the Baylor Conversation Series, Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone briefly outlined Baylor’s facility plans, not only for the Ferrell Center, but also for the academic and housing departments as well.
Livingstone said phase one of the planned renovations includes changes to the STEM Research and Engineering facilities, Honors College dormitories, the Tidwell Bible Building, the Ferrell Center, acrobatics and tumbling facilities, football operations facilities and a new welcome center.
Unfortunately for Helget and other students who are disappointed in the news, Moody and Jones Library, as well as Kokernot and Collins Halls, didn’t make the phase one facilities plans. In the meantime, Baylor fans and students can look forward to a new home for women’s and men’s basketball games sometime in the not too distant future.