WACO (July 12, 2012)—The Waco City Council voted Tuesday night to approve the recommendation of Waco’s downtown Tax Increment Financing Zone No. 1 to pump $35 million into Baylor University’s $250 million on-campus football stadium project.
The money would go toward infrastructure improvements including roads, power lines, sewer lines and a public marina, as well as a pedestrian bridge over the Brazos River, connecting the main campus with the facility.
Baylor’s Board of Regents is scheduled to take a final vote on whether to approve the stadium this week.
Baylor President, Ken Starr spoke to the council Tuesday, stressing the need for the money.
He also said the project would not be "economically feasible" for the university without the city's support.
One concern among some members of the council, though, is that the stadium be available to rent for residents and organizations outside the Baylor community.
"This is truly going to be a community complex and Baylor stadium. So I think everybody is going to be very happy with the many uses of this complex,” Starr said.
There are other facilities on the Baylor campus open to the public such as the Ferrell Center and Waco Hall.
The city built and donated the building in 1930 to ensure the university would stay in Waco.
A similar presumption even back then was that the building would be open to city organizations.
While a number of community events are hosted on campus, they must be in line with the school's moral code.
That includes no profanity, no sexual gestures, no alcohol sales, and someone affiliated with the school must sponsor the events.
Like other Baylor facilities, the new complex is expected to be accessible for organizations to rent, which are not affiliated with the university.
However, some argue even those venues are not always available.
We're full pretty much. I mean, I think we operate- have something in the space 260 days a year and a lot of those other times are weekends or summers,” Waco Hall Facility Manager Joshua Gilliam said.
Officials say, since the city and the school will both fund the project, they will both decide who gets access and who does not.
" We haven't reached any decision with the city in terms of the governance and so forth. So we'll cross that bridge,” Starr said.
The council will take a second and final vote in two weeks.