Announced December 21, 2021
Baylor University and City of Waco Agree to Partner on Dynamic Riverfront Location of the Paul and Alejandra Foster Basketball Pavilion
The $185 million multipurpose facility for Baylor’s championship men’s and women’s basketball programs will have riverfront prominence along the Brazos River at I-35
Baylor University and the City of Waco have announced an initial agreement to partner on the riverfront location of the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion, which like its football predecessor McLane Stadium will be in the highest visibility area of the city's growing Riverfront district.
The new $185 million home for Baylor's championship men's and women's basketball teams will be located along the Brazos River on the west side of Interstate-35 adjacent to the University's Clifton Robinson Tower, which will remain. The project is part of a projected $700 million in upcoming investments along the riverfront on University Parks Drive, from I-35 to Franklin Avenue.
The announcement comes after the Baylor Board of Regents on Monday unanimously approved the final project budget of $185 million, as well as the scope and site selection for the Foster Pavilion, while the Waco City Council voted tonight to approve $65 million for the multipurpose basketball facility. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, the University and the City will have until March 1, 2022, to negotiate and execute a final agreement.
The project scope of the Foster Pavilion will include:
- A 245,000-square-foot facility
- Seating for 7,000 fans, with additional standing-room-only areas for approximately 500 spectators
- Two separate premium club spaces at a combined 8,500 square feet
- Two 2,000-square-foot video end boards
- Visiting locker rooms with the flexibility to accommodate two to four teams
- Development Center for Baylor's championship women's and men's basketball teams, including:
- Private entrance and elevator, separate practice courts, dedicated locker rooms and team lounges
- Office facilities for each coach and administration
- Shared sports performance-related spaces, including strength and conditioning, athletic training/treatment, hydrotherapy, nutrition and more
- Enhancements/upfits for the arena to support additional events, such as concerts, performances and public events, including stage rigging, full catering kitchen and cooking capability, additional dressing rooms for performers and related offices.
Under the terms of the MOU, the City of Waco and Baylor are to negotiate and execute a facility use agreement providing 90 calendar days to the City for concerts, performances and other public events in a manner that do not conflict with basketball operations or University priorities.
Construction on the Foster Pavilion is expected to begin in June 2022 with an early opening of the pavilion targeted for January 2024. The Development Center's opening is anticipated in April 2024.
The Foster Pavilion's timeline works favorably with the Texas Department of Transportation's reconstruction of I-35 mainlanes through Waco, which is expected to be completed in early 2023. The I-35 project also includes significant improvements to pedestrian walkways, lighting and roadways along University Parks Drive and 4th/5th Streets that lead from the Baylor campus to the new Foster Pavilion. This will be welcome news to students who live in campus student housing, the majority of which is located closer to the future Foster Pavilion than Baylor's existing Ferrell Center. In addition, with the future Baylor-Waco partnership, Baylor basketball gamedays can expect multi-agency support for gameday traffic, pedestrian and public safety.
The Pavilion will book-end the City of Waco Riverfront Development, which is currently in its first phase of construction. The Pavilion phase of the project will result in the addition of more than $160 million in private investment to create new apartment units, riverfront restaurants and at least 600 new parking spaces in addition to the more than 400 already under construction in the Riverfront area. As part of the overall development, additional phases and real estate will be developed in the area in a manner that could result in more than $700 million in total investment.
Waco City Council Presentation Videos
Comments from leadership
Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.:
"The City of Waco has been an invaluable partner of Baylor University for well over a century, and we are excited to move forward together on the spectacular riverfront location of the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion. This announcement is a first step, but it is a significant one. The Foster Pavilion will be home for our championship men's and women's basketball programs in a highly visible area of remarkable growth and development along the Brazos River, I-35 and University Parks Drive. We are honored to be part of the exciting developments in the city Baylor calls home."
Waco Mayor Dillon Meek:
"At full build out, this project will be the largest economic development project in Waco's history and will undoubtedly transform the face of Downtown Waco. It embodies what today's Waco is all about: collaborative spirit, big dreams and an authentic commitment to ambitious action. There is no city in Texas ripe with more opportunity – from our local entrepreneurs, artists and small businesses to corporations like Space X and Amazon – Waco's economy and culture is on the move. This project exemplifies that Baylor University's partnership with Waco is as robust and collaborative as ever before, and I am privileged to walk alongside such upstanding leaders."
Baylor Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV:
"We are incredibly thankful for the city's immense support. The Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion will undoubtedly be one of the nation's preeminent basketball facilities – uniquely positioned on the banks of the Brazos in Waco, Texas. Facilities like this don't just happen. It takes a shared vision and commitment to excellence for our athletic department and our 500+ student-athletes, the Baylor Family and the City of Waco. Elite programs deserve an elite facility, and today marks a significant milestone in fulfilling this vision. This state-of-the-art facility will create an exciting environment unlike any other for both our students and fans alike. The future is bright for Baylor and Waco."
Waco City Manager Bradley Ford:
"The Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion aligns with over four decades of visioning for the development of the riverfront and benefits our community with activated spaces that will attract people to downtown and provide access and enjoyment for all our residents and visitors. It captures the City's desire to use the riverfront for recreation, economic development and neighborhood activities. This project includes the potential for more than $700 million in total investment on the site, including a revitalized riverwalk, additional restaurants and opportunity for a hotel space. We are excited about this opportunity to work alongside our longstanding partner, Baylor University."