New Baylor stadium almost a reality
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Waco leaders have tried to do something with the north shore of the Brazos River since the 1970s. Every idea they have had has come up short, until now.
"We've been talking about bringing something to District One, and boy, do you bring something to District One," Waco City Council Member Wilbert Austin said.
The new Baylor Stadium and Community Center will fill 93 acres along the north Brazos riverbank. The project will have many amenities including a boat harbor and pedestrian bridge.
"This great stadium and community complex is going to be one of the great showcases of the United States," Baylor University President Judge Ken Starr said.
The City of Waco will kick in $35 million for water, sewer, electrical and roads. The money will come from the city's Tax Increment Financing Zone.
"I believe we can justify this investment solely on the improvement to the quality of life in an area that we have been working on for 30 years," Waco Mayor Malcolm Duncan said.
Waco City Council Member Toni Herbert agrees.
"This is the project that we've been talking about for decades," he said. "What I think we're doing is 'paying it forward.'"
The stadium project is coming just as construction begins on a major bridge redesign at Interstate-35 near the river.
"If that bridge had not already been agreed to and underway, this project simply would not have been possible," Baylor University CFO Reagan Ramsower said. "It's going to be a real asset, not only for the city but it will be a catalyst for riverfront development."
Some preliminary site work is already underway and the existing apartments are scheduled for demolition in August.
"This can be great partnership between the community -- to a have a truly community events center as well as a stadium." Starr said.
Ramsower says he believes it will be one of the most beautiful stadiums in the Southwest.
The Baylor stadium infrastructure agreement has already been approved by the tax board and the Baylor Regents. Final approval by city council is expected on July 24. Baylor leaders hope the new stadium can be completed in time for the 2014 football season.