UMHB to break ground on new stadium, student center
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 by Tanner Clarke
Construction equipment and piles of dirt will soon be filling the center of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor campus. The biggest piece of the UMHB Campus Master Plan will soon be underway in the next few weeks.
At 1 p.m. on Friday, the UMHB trustees, President Randy O'Rear and representatives from the construction companies involved will gather with students, faculty, staff and friends from the community to break ground on the lower parking lot south of the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center on University Drive.
This site will soon be a brand new student union building and football stadium with an expected cost of more than $50 million and a completion date of fall 2013.
"For students it's going to be an unbelievable upgrade," Vice President for Student Life Byron Weathersbee said.
Turner Construction Company has been hired to build the new 8,000 – 10,000 capacity football stadium and student union building. They are most well known for their original construction and renovation of Madison Square Garden, redevelopment of Soldier Field in Chicago and the construction of the new Yankee Stadium.
Also the architectural firm Populous was hired last year to design the new stadium complex and the connected student union building. This company is also well known for designing prominent, award-winning stadiums, arenas and ballparks.
The Lead Architect for the project is Earl Santee, AIA, who has an extensive profile of projects including the new Yankee Stadium, Target Field in Minneapolis, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and new ballparks for the universities of North Carolina and South Carolina. Santee became involved in the project through a friend of the university, Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane, Jr.
"This is a converging of the arts with the bookstore with the retail with the residential dining with the organizations with the meeting rooms," Weathersbee said. "It will really be a hub of activity and a place for students to connect and see and be seen."
After many years of planning, this building it is really exciting for everyone involved to see it finally begin.
"What's not to love about those two projects finally coming together?," Weathersbee said. "The groundbreaking signifies the beginning of the means to the end."
This project is not just for the UMHB campus but for the Belton area as well.
"Anytime a university is in the center of a community, it's good for the community," Weatherbee said. "When UMHB grows it enhances Belton."
The university sees the effect that the surrounding area has on their students and appreciates that relationship.
"Our students need the community of Belton because they make a huge impact on our students in mentoring them, befriending them, caring for them, going to church with them, nurturing and disciplining (them)," Weatherbee said. "It is such a good partnership when you have a university and a community together. Belton has been so gracious to the University of Mary Harding-Baylor to open their arms to our students to help develop them."