Doug McNamee, Baylor Assistant Athletic Director for Premium Seating & Services, discusses some of the key points to consider before seat selections for the new McLane Stadium begin Thursday morning:
• “Wait Just A Doggone Minute! My Seats At Floyd Casey Were At The 20-Yard Line, Now I’m At The 10. What Gives?”
This is like comparing apples and oranges. You can’t compare a seat at Floyd Casey to one at McLane Stadium.
“If someone looks at their seats and says, ‘I was at the 20 at Floyd Casey, and I’m at the 5 or the 10 at McLane Stadium, I’m disappointed,’ I would say that’s a shortsighted way to look at it,” McNamee said. “Obviously, it’s a natural way to look at it. But you’re not considering the whole picture, which is the overall total experience. You’re closer to the field, you have better amenities, you’re probably sitting in a better seat. The overall experience is superior. It’s not even comparable. The fans haven’t experienced that, so they know what to reference it.
“People want equivalent seats, and equivalent isn’t as easy as the west side 50-yard line. It’s a different way to compare.”
• Did you even know you could sit on the east side of the stadium?
Historically, the west side of Floyd Casey Stadium was the default “home” side, much like high school stadiums.
“No big-time college in America has a home side and visitor’s side,” McNamee said. “Tell me which side at the University of Texas is the home side? Maybe right behind where the UT bench is a home section, but it’s not a high school stadium.”
As Baylor transitions into the new McLane Stadium on the Brazos River, McNamee said, “The entire stadium has to be Baylor.”
“In previous years, people have been hesitant about sitting on the east side because of the sun. That’s understandable,” he said. “But, we have to occupy the whole stadium. We have to provide a complete Baylor atmosphere across both sides of the stadium. We’re going to need donors sitting on the 50-yard line on the east side. And guess what? Those people sitting there are going to love it. They’re going to have a great seat.”
Consider this: At Floyd Casey, there were no chair-back seats on the east side. At McLane Stadium, there will be over 2,600 chair-back seats on the 200 and 300 levels.
“There are some definite perks to being on that side,” McNamee said. “Those seats are going to be closer, in general, to parking. You’re going to get a better value in terms of where you can select on that side. And they’re going to be great seats over there.”
• Warning: Be prepared to climb stairs if you select a 300 level seat.
While there’s not a bad seat in the stadium, you need to be aware that seats on the 300 level are only accessible by stairs from the 200 level concourse.
“It would be equivalent to picking a seat on one of the higher rows at Floyd Casey,” McNamee said. “In almost every case, it’s going to require you to climb stairs to get to your seats. There are only two concourses, not three, at the stadium. The 200 level concourse actually feeds both the 200 and 300 level seats. So, if you pick a seat in that 300 level, you need to be prepared to go up and down stairs.”
Sections 302-309 on the west side have been drawing lots of attention, “because the view there is just awesome,” McNamee said.
But there are not stairways for each section. If you are closer to the 50-yard line in sections 305 or 306, you have to walk down to the stairway entrances at 302 or 309.
“If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t get up and use the bathroom much; you get your seats and get your popcorn and drink, and sit and watch the game without interruption, those are awesome seats,” McNamee said. “If you’re the type of persont that’s going to get up and down and move around a ton, you’re probably not going to want those seats.”
• You don’t have to select seats with seat options.
As a Bear Foundation member, you are not limited to picking seats that require a seat option. You can select any available seats in the stadium.
“They can pick end zone seats on the top row,” McNamee said. “But, regardless where they pick, they still have to maintain their Bear Foundation level to keep those seats. Just because they pick seats that don’t have seat options associated with them doesn’t remove them from their Bear Foundation responsibility.”
• OK, here’s the real biggie: Where am I parking?
Depending on your giving level, you may or may not have an on-site parking pass.
The only lots with assigned parking spots are lots A and B. And they will be designated with numbers, not donor names like at Floyd Casey.
“And people are going to say, ‘Why aren’t there more assigned parking spots?’’’ McNamee said. “The consultants that made all the decisions regarding parking actually encouraged us not to do any assigned parking. Just from a flow-of-traffic standpoint, they said you don’t want to do any assigned parking. We just didn’t feel like that was a reasonable option for us. So, we kind of compromised. A and B are assigned parking, and then C and D are reserved general admission spots. You’re going to get a spot, but the location within that lot is based on first-come, first-served.
“I know there are going to be a lot of people that previously had an assigned spot that will be disappointed. But our rationale on that is we want to get you in and out as fast as possible.”
Off-site parking will also be available at the Dutton Street Garage, Ferrell Center and limited spots at the Baylor Law School.
“And all three of those spots, while it might be a little longer walk than they’re accustomed to, will have their own advantages,” McNamee said. “They will be easier to get in and out of, so there will be some upside to those as well.”
Shuttle services will be provided from those lots “that gets them a little farther down University Parks, but it won’t take them all the way to the stadium. You’re still going to have to walk across the bridge,” McNamee said.
There also will be handicap accessible parking at the BRIC – the Baylor Research Innovation Collaborative, housed in the old General Tire plant – with shuttle service and drop-off in front of the stadium.
• Now, let the fun begin.
Stadium selection will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, starting with the Championship level Bear Foundation donors that are renewing their 2013 season tickets.
After all the BBF donors (as of Nov. 22, 2013) go through the selection process, Tier 2 will be the non-Foundation members that had 2013 season tickets. They will begin selecting their seats in May, then new Bear Foundation members will get to select in June.
“It may not be the loyalty that some people would like to see,” McNamee said. “But I can tell you, we have had plenty of people that have come to us in the last six months and said, ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to get good seats in the new stadium.’ We’ve turned down money from people that have said, ‘I’ll give whatever I need to give.’ The Johnny-come-lately person, that guy is going to be sitting in the end zone, if he gets tickets at all.”
While less than 35 percent of the seating selection is expected to be done in person at the Baylor Athletic Ticket Office at the Ferrell Center, McNamee said he doesn’t know how the process could have been done without the Ballena ticketing system that provides accurate seating views and online selections.
“We’ve talked about potential catastrophies and any breakdowns that might occur, and we’re prepared for that as well,” McNamee said. “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed, hoping for no power outages on the Baylor campus for the next six weeks or so.”
Calling seat selections “emotional,” McNamee said he has had his share of sleepless nights worrying about how the process will go, knowing that there will be some complaints.
“Tickets are an emotional, very sensitive thing for people,” he said. “And that’s great, because people love Baylor football. That’s awesome. But it also carries with it the burden of intense scrutiny. Any glitch, or anything that people might perceive as an injustice, comes with an incredible amount of heartache.”
Baylor, the defending Big 12 champion, opens in the new McLane Stadium on Aug. 31 with a matchup against former Southwest Conference rival SMU. Other home games this season are Northwestern State on Sept. 6, TCU on Oct. 11, the homecoming game against Kansas on Nov. 1, Oklahoma State on Nov. 22 and Kansas State on Dec. 6.