A new $185-million arena for Baylor University basketball teams and other events is now part of a larger development in downtown Waco, with approvals expected this week.
If all goes well, the new 7,000-seat arena would open in January 2024 and anchor an expected $700 million in downtown riverfront redevelopment in coming years. Baylor has been working for several years on a plan for a Ferrell Center replacement; the project ended up growing past just a new campus facility and into something much larger.
Though home to Baylor basketball, it would be a city-run facility and be used for a variety of events as well; the city expects to contract with an arena-management firm and hold approximately 90 events and concerts in addition to the basketball games. It’s a complicated deal, to be sure, with the city, donors, the university and development Catalyst Urban Development all involved. But it’s certainly a transformative development for downtown Waco, billed as a bridge between downtown Waco and the Baylor campus. From the Waco Tribune:
The Waco City Council will vote Tuesday on an agreement to seek $65 million in Tax Increment Financing Zone funding for the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion, which is set to break ground in June and wrap up by January 2024.
The Baylor University Board of Regents is set Monday to approve funding for the 7,000-seat arena that athletics officials say will improve fan experience and sightlines for their highly successful teams. The facility will also include a development center for men’s and women’s teams and offices for coaches.
….Donor interest in the project is strong. Baylor already has $90 million available from donors, including $75 million from the Foster family. Interest has only grown since the men’s team won the national championship this year, and the women’s team, which won its last national title in 2019, remains highly ranked.
Renderings courtesy Baylor University.