On Tuesday afternoon Baylor AD Mack Rhoades announced plans for a brand new $105 million basketball facility to be built on the banks of the Brazos River. The announcement comes on the heels of an anonymous $100 million-dollar gift to Baylor’s ongoing Give Light Campaign, which has a stated fundraising goal of $1.1 billion.
Kim Mulkey, Scott Drew, Matt Rhule, and other head coaches were in attendance for the announcement, as was Big XII Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
“We’re excited about being able to move forward with that project,” Rhoades said. “You think about this basketball pavilion. We want it to be certainly the best in the country. We’re going to be extremely thoughtful when we put it all together. We want to create a facility that certainly is great for our fans and provides a first-class fan experience, but also something that is great for our student athletes and our coaches. And that helps us continue to build the legacy of winning championships.”
The new arena will be constructed adjacent to the current baseball stadium, and will share a parking lot with the Ferrell Center. Current renderings have the capacity for the new arena at between 7,000-7,500 seats in an effort to sell out every game and create a distinct home court advantage. The Ferrell Center currently has 10,347 seats.
“One of the best ways to help our sports programs is to give them the most electrifying – and I use that word intentionally – the most electrifying home court advantage that we can provide.”
Noted basketball statistician Ken Pomeroy has ranked Baylor’s home court advantage at number 78 nationally. Only TCU has a lower-ranked home court advantage in the Big XII. The plan to reduce seats in the new arena is intended to increase noise and fill seats, and also follows national trends of arenas being built smaller than their predecessors. Since 2015, 88% of new arenas built by major programs have a reduced number of seats.
Total costs for the new arena are estimated at $105 million, though only $75 million of the anonymous gift will be applied to the basketball facility. $25 million of the anonymous gift is set aside to potentially create 17 new endowed faculty chairs. Baylor currently has five endowed chairs.
“Think about that academic transformation across campus,” Rhoades said.
An additional $30 million will be needed to round out the fundraising for the new basketball facility, and for that reason the timeline of construction is still unknown. As of now, the facility is tentatively named the Baylor Basketball Pavilion due to the lead donor’s wish to remain anonymous.
In addition to construction on a new facility, the Ferrell Center will be renovated to accommodate acrobatics and tumbling as well as volleyball. Estimates for that renovation project are $20 million.
“If you ever stand still, you end up getting beat,” Rhoades said. “And we need to continue to always have that mindset.”