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Design & Development

Baylor University opens new arena

Featured image credit: Baylor Athletics

Baylor University, which is located in the US city of Waco in Texas, officially opened its new $212m (£167m/€194m) arena on Tuesday as its men’s basketball team recorded a 98-79 win over Cornell.

The venue, known as the Paul & Alejandra Foster Pavilion, or ‘The Foster’ for short, is located in Waco’s Riverfront district and has a seated capacity for 7,000 fans, with additional standing-room-only areas for around 500 spectators.

The Baylor Bears previously played at the 10,284-seat Ferrell Center, where the team had a win-loss record of 401-169 over the course of 35 years. The first points scored at the new arena came courtesy of the Bears’ Yves Missi.

The Foster was built by Austin Commercial, with the final touches having been applied last month to allow the Bears to train at the arena on New Year’s Eve. Prior to the first game on Tuesday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held and students were able to sign a piece of the court that will hang in The Foster for years to come.

Despite the new arena being smaller than Ferrell Center, the crowd is much closer to the court in a move designed to enhance the atmosphere and fan experience. Tuesday’s sellout crowd included Bill Gates, whose girlfriend Paula Hurd is on the board of regents at Baylor University.

Mack Rhoades, vice-president and director of athletics at Baylor, said: “The Ferrell Center has been a great home … when we fill it. I think you’ll remember in the Big 12 study, Ferrell was one of the worst home-court advantages in the Big 12. And we needed to change that, we need to flip that. And I think this facility will do that for us.”

Baylor University and the City of Waco announced an initial agreement to build a new multi-purpose arena back in December 2021. At the time, the arena had been expected to cost $185m but this figure rose to $212m.