Floyd Casey Stadium

Floyd Casey Stadium housed the Baylor Football Program from 1950 until the opening of McLane Stadium in the fall of 2014. In 1936, Baylor Football’s home turf was Municipal Stadium, located at Fifteenth Street and Dutton Avenue. With a maximum seating of twenty thousand, it didn’t take long for the Baylor Football Program to outgrow this facility.

In the late 1940s, a 500-member-strong Baylor Stadium Corporation formed to provide a new home for the Bears, and Baylor President W. R. White banded together with Waco civic leaders in order to get the job done. The corporation initially projected preliminary construction costs at $1.5 million. The city agreed to put $500,000 toward the project, and the university estimated that $1 million could be raised from non-Waco resources such as Baylor alumni, football fans, and “outstanding Baptists [sic] laymen.”

In order to raise the money, the Baylor Stadium Corporation issued thirty-year stadium bonds at 3 percent interest. Bonds of $100 or more could be applied as a tuition credit and prospective students received “entrance priority.” The corporation also provided supporters with the option of purchasing seats, which guaranteed a seat for all home games for twenty years following the construction of the stadium, with prices varying according to stadium seat locations.

Fundraisers traveled across Texas, with exhortations from President White that “Baylor is not asking for a gift. The bonds are sound investments from a financial standpoint. The [seating] options are investments in future entertainment for sports lovers.” The rhetoric worked. By January of 1950, $1,001,836.70 worth of bonds and stadium seat options were sold.

While fundraisers were out stumping, Baylor searched for the perfect location for the stadium. Although the university wanted to remain in the same area as Municipal Stadium on the grounds of the former Texas Cotton Palace, parking posed an issue and a geological fault on the land raised construction concerns. On to Plan B. A February 1949 news release announced the purchase of a 100-acre plot in Waco’s west suburbs for the new Baylor Stadium.

The university held the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Baylor Stadium on May 28, 1949, and construction began in November of the same year. Even though the stadium wasn’t quite finished, the Bears played their first game at Baylor Stadium on September 30, 1950, against the University of Houston.

At the time of that first game, the stadium sat forty-nine thousand people and was hailed as a “Fittin’ home for the Fightin’ Baylor Bears.” Opening ceremonies included a flyover by planes from nearby Connally Air Force Base, while the University of Houston band played the national anthem and Baylor Air Force ROTC color guard raised the colors. Baylor even beat the University of Houston 34-7 on the long-awaited opening day.

Legendary sportswriter Dave Campbell reported in a 1957 Waco Tribune-Herald article that “the show-piece stadium” where “every seat is good” cost $1,668,790.27. In the years following the first game, the stadium was renovated several times in order to account for increased attendance and ticket sales. One of the largest projects occurred in the late 1980s when Carl B. Casey donated $5 million toward an $8 million renovation plan. At the 1988 homecoming game, the stadium was renamed to honor his father, Floyd Casey.

Although primarily constructed to serve the football team, Floyd Casey Stadium also hosted other events for both Baylor and the Waco community. For many years, the university held graduation ceremonies in the stadium and once even hosted an ice skating fundraiser after installing several large tanks of water on the field. Wacoans often watched area high schools play on the collegiate field, and in the aftermath of the Waco tornado, the stadium housed servicemen from Fort Hood assisting in the cleanup and rescue efforts.

After serving both Baylor and the Waco community for over sixty years, Floyd Casey Stadium held a record-setting crowd of 51,728 at the stadium’s final game, a victory over the University of Texas on December 7, 2013.

Images

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

This may be the dedication game, Baylor vs. Houston, which took place on September 30, 1950. Evidence of continuing construction is visible in the vehicle tracks around the field and the unfinished work in the end zone. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Marketing Photograph (c. 1949)

Marketing Photograph (c. 1949)

This picture was intended to highlight the aging Municipal Stadium that both Baylor Football and Waco High School shared. This facility could no longer hold the crowds drawn to Baylor football games.  | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Jimmie Willis View File Details Page

Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground

Baylor President W. R. White digs the first shovel of dirt at the Baylor Stadium groundbreaking on May 28, 1949. The event started at 5 pm, hence the large array of lighting. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Jimmie Willis View File Details Page

Construction Begins

Construction Begins

The Swigert Construction Company of Waco is hard at work building a stadium in this image. Swigert’s bid of $1,127,188 for the stadium, parking facilities, streets, and pavement was the lowest offered. The construction job began in November of 1949 and was finished in September of the following year. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Jimmie Willis View File Details Page

Crowded Streets

Crowded Streets

The turnout was huge for this Baylor vs. Texas A&M game in 1950. Notice towards the bottom of the image that cars are parked along Dutton Avenue to Highway 6 (now South Valley Mills Drive). The hard work of the Baylor Stadium Corporation turned what was an empty field a year earlier into a bustling, modern sports facility. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Jimmie Willis View File Details Page

Baylor Bears

Baylor Bears

Taken at a Baylor vs. Southern Methodist University game in 1953, this photograph shows the stadium before some of its later major renovations. Note the Baylor mascots in attendance at the game in the foreground of the photograph. The tradition of the university’s American black bears attending home football games remained in place until 2010.  | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Homecoming (c. 1976)

Homecoming (c. 1976)

Legendary coach Grant Teaff expressed his frustration with the school's poor football facilities upon his arrival. Although novel at the time of its construction, the stadium had not been updated for years. In 1972, artificial turf replaced the grass field in what would become the first of several major renovations at the stadium. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

West Entrance (c. 1986)

West Entrance (c. 1986)

The stadium proudly bore the university's name on its west entrance until donations form the Casey family made extensive renovation projects possible in the late 1980s, leading to the renaming of the stadium. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Baylor Marketing and Communications View File Details Page

Ultimate Football Experience

Ultimate Football Experience

A series of major renovations, primarily for the improvement of visitor services such as skyboxes and concession areas, began in the late 1980s and carried into the twenty-first century. This 1989 photograph displays the newly expanded and renovated skybox complex behind an enthusiastic crowd of Baylor football fans. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Baylor Marketing and Communications View File Details Page

Homecoming (c. 2013)

Homecoming (c. 2013)

Baylor football played its final season at Floyd Casey Stadium in 2013, moving to the newly constructed McLane Stadium for the 2014 season. Although alternative use options were initially considered, the university plans to demolish the structure and is negotiating a land swap deal with the city. | Source: Image courtesy of Baylor Marketing and Communications View File Details Page

Audio

A Helpful Man

Victor T. Newman remembers Floyd Casey as a very kind man who would help anyone that needed advice. | Source: Newman, Victor T., interviewed by Lois E. Myers, September 17, 1997, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Geoff Hunt, “Floyd Casey Stadium,” Waco History, accessed June 23, 2017, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/124.

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