Source: Waco, BU in talks about possible downtown site for new arena

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Waco and Baylor University officials are at least talking about the possibility of a downtown riverfront site for the school’s new $105-million basketball arena, according to a source with direct knowledge of the talks who commented on the condition of anonymity.

A rendering of the Baylor Basketball Pavilion that was released in May 2019. (Baylor University/file)

Baylor announced in May 2019 that it planned to use a portion of a record $100 million donation to help fund the Baylor Basketball Pavilion.

“With the lead gift in place, Baylor is in a position to secure additional funding and proceed with a formal plan for design and construction, Athletic Director Mack Rhoades said at the time.

The university said in May 2019 that the pavilion, with a projected capacity of 7,000 to 7,500, would be built on the south side of the Brazos River between the Baylor Ballpark and the Ferrell Center, but the source said Wednesday the discussions now underway revolve around a possible location near the proposed site of the city’s Riverfront Project.

Once the facility is constructed, the men's and women's basketball programs would move into the new arena and the Ferrell Center would be renovated to accommodate the school's volleyball and acrobatics and tumbling programs.

Neither the city nor the university would confirm such talks are underway, however.

"The city and Baylor University have a long-standing relationship and shared goals to positively impact Waco as evidenced by our past partnerships on McLane Stadium and the Baylor Research / Innovation Collaborative facility. At this point there are no plans for the Pavilion to be located in the Riverfront Development,” the city said in a statement Wednesday.

Baylor issued a similar statement.

"As the city indicated earlier today, there are no plans at this point. We continue to fund-raise for the project, and there's great excitement behind Baylor basketball,” the school said.

Such a deal would not be without precedent.

The Waco City Council voted unanimously in August 2012 to approve a record $35 million Tax Increment Financing grant toward the development of Baylor’s McLane Stadium.