WACO, TX — Baylor Athletics announced a portion of the recent $100 million donation to the university will be used for a new Baylor Basketball Pavilion.
The donation to the Give Light campaign is the largest gift in Baylor University history. The donor will remain anonymous.
Baylor launched to $1.1 billion campaign on Nov. 1. At that time, Baylor Athletics unveiled its four signature projects.
1. The arena project: a new arena, but if not, renovations to the Ferrell Center
2. A practice and competition facility for Acrobatics and Tumbling
3. A football operations building on the banks of the Brazos near the team's practice facilities.
4. Once football leaves the Simpson Center, utilizing that space as an academic center for the university's 535 student athletes
The new basketball pavilion is expected to cost $105 million and will be built on the banks of the Brazos River in a part of the Ferrell Center parking lot. During the announcement, Baylor Athletics Athletic Director Mack Rhodes said the space will only be used for basketball.
"We've been the number-one rated basketball conference for a number of years. But, a part of the responsibility of that ranking, is to continue and to do the things that it takes to continue to stay there and play at the highest level, and this is one of those things," Bob Bowlsby, the Big 12 Commissioner, said.
Thanks to the generous donation, Baylor only needs to raise $30 million more.
After studying a variety of other arenas across the country, Baylor decided to down-size from the Ferrell Center.
"In trying to create a very, very intimate environment. Something that we can sell out, and certainly, that's the goal. That we can sell out each and every game," Mack Rhoades, Baylor's athletic director, said.
"Everybody wants louder. Everyone wants closer. Everyone wants a better view, better seat and that's what you get," Scott Drew, Baylor men's basketball head coach, said.
The capacity of the pavilion is expected to be between 7,000-7,500 fans.
The school said the smaller facility will still allow Baylor to host NCAA tournament games in the future.
According to Baylor's research, in the last six seasons, the Lady Bears have hosted 12 NCAA tournament games. The highest attendance of one of those games was 5,461 fans.
"I've always believed: don't ask for things until you've done something," Kim Mulkey, Baylor's Lady Bears head coach, said. "And, we've done something. Scott Drew has done something, and now we have an opportunity to say wow. All that hard work, all those great players that played at Baylor really prepared us for this moment."
As far as the name of the facility, it will be known as the Baylor Basketball Pavilion, unless one day the donor family decides to have their name used instead.
There is no specific timeline for the completion of this project yet.
The Ferrell Center will undergo $20 million worth of renovations and then become the permanent home of Baylor's Volleyball and Acrobatics and Tumbling teams.
"Coaches, we teach team. We teach family. I mean when another sport needs practice time you want to share it because that's what you're supposed to do. When you're a team, you always give and the great thing is now you don't have to because everyone has their own," Coach Drew added.
"It really comes down to the student athletes, and for them to have their own space, a locker room they can all fit in and then a dedicated practice space where we can shift our practice time. For me, I wish I could be with them when they hear about this today," Felecia Mulkey, Baylor's Acrobatics and Tumbling head coach, said.
Baylor Athletics is thrilled to announce a lead gift for the Baylor Basketball Pavilion. This new facility will be made possible thanks to recently publicized $100 million anonymous gift as a part of Baylor University’s Give Light Campaign. #SicEm #GiveLightBU pic.twitter.com/EO60htPk4e— Baylor Athletics (@BaylorAthletics) May 7, 2019