Ground-breaking for new stadium Friday
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 by Chuck Kelly
From "wish list" to a vision to a coordinated effort on plans and funding to reality --- that has been the journey for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor's new football stadium.
Tomorrow (Friday), a 1:00pm groundbreaking ceremony will kick off construction of an 8,000-10,000 capacity football stadium and student union building near the center of the campus on University Drive, adjacent to the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center.
The combined cost of the project is expected to be more than $50 million and the timeline calls for construction to be completed by fall of 2013.
By locating the complex near the Mayborn Center, which houses the university's arena, and the nearby intramural fields, the university will create a "student activity zone" surrounded by student residence halls and apartments.
"Our goal," said UMHB President Randy O'Rear, "is to encourage students to become involved in many facets of campus life by placing these activity areas within easy walking distance of where the students live. We know that students who become involved in campus life are more likely to persist in their studies and graduate; we want our campus to be a place where our students are involved both in and out of the classroom in activities that help them learn and grow as we prepare them for successful lives of leadership and service."
The architectural firm Populous was hired in March of last year to design the new stadium complex. As the concept developed to construct the stadium as an interlocking component with the student union building, which will anchor the visitors' side of the stadium, UMHB asked Populous to also design the three-story student union as well as the stadium.
Turner Construction Company, a recognized leader in the construction field with a long history in building sports facilities, will build the new football stadium and student union building.
"This (project) offers us the opportunity to utilize both our sports and higher education experience and provide the university with first-class facilities," commented Turner vice president Gary Birdsall.
One person very familiar with the football program that was started in 1998 when he was still a student at UMHB, is former baseball coach and now Vice-President for Athletics Ben Shipp.
"It's just overwhelming to think about where we came from and this new stadium is part of that process. The stadium is a result of a lot of people doing a lot of things with commitment from our football coach (Pete Fredenburg) and our administration. They worked hard and I'm overwhelmed by the direction we're heading," Shipp stated. "This will bring many people onto our campus that haven't been here before for Cru games and high school playoff games, etc. Folks will be walking around our picturesque campus with its beautiful grounds and buildings. And, too, visitors will be adding to the Belton-area economy with dollars spent while here. This is good news for the university and the entire community."
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor President O'Rear will speak at tomorrow's ceremonial groundbreaking, as will Coach Fredenburg, Byron Weathersbee and representatives of the football team and student government. Representatives from Populous and Turner Construction and all of the university's trustees are also expected to participate.
The public is invited to attend the groundbreaking tomorrow (Friday) at 1:00pm on the lower parking area south of the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center on University Drive.