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Baylor University to develop new basketball arena

Baylor University in Waco, Texas has announced plans to build a new $105m (£80.7m/€93.5m) facility that will house its men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The development will serve as one of the four signature projects in the Athletics Master Plan portion of the university’s $1.1bn Give Light campaign. It will be partially funded by a $100m anonymous gift that was announced on Saturday by Baylor president Linda Livingstone.

An additional $30m will be needed to fund the pavilion, which will be built on the south side of the Brazos River adjacent to Baylor Ballpark. The basketball-only facility will seat between 7,000 and 7,500 fans, compared to the 10,284-seat Ferrell Center, the current home of the university’s basketball teams.

Mack Rhoades, Baylor University vice-president and director of athletics, said: “We can’t say enough in terms of how grateful we are to this family and the belief they have in this institution.

“When you think about this basketball pavilion, we want it to be certainly the best in the country. We want to create a facility that is great for our fans and provides a first-class fan experience, but also something that’s great for our student-athletes and helps us continue to build a legacy of winning championships.”

Rhoades added: “When you look at some of the facility projects recently, they tend to all be downsizing. I think very similar to this facility (McLane Stadium, home of the university’s American football teams), they got this right in terms of 45,000 seats.

“So, (we’re) just trying to be real with who we are and trying to create a very intimate environment, something that we can sell out. The phenomena of supply and demand and making this the place to be. The place to be for our fans, that our student-athletes feel that … that they know each and every night, they’re going to play in front of an extremely electrifying crowd.”

Kim Mulkey, coach of the women’s basketball team, said she was not initially excited about a smaller-sized arena because the team sells out. She added: “Mack has obviously done his homework. I trust that this is going to be awesome. What I hope happens is that I get a ton of calls: ‘Coach, can you help me find a seat?’ And I have to say, ‘You should have bought season tickets.”’

It is unclear when construction will begin or how long the project will take but Rhoades said work should begin “sooner rather than later”.

Ferrell Center will benefit from a $20m renovation and serve as a competitive and practice facility for Baylor’s volleyball and acrobatics & tumbling teams.

Image: BaylorAthletics YouTube