Belton, Texas—Friday, February 3, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor held a special groundbreaking to kick off construction of its new football stadium and student union building. The event was attended by more than 300 people, including university officials, trustees, representatives of Turner Construction Company and the architectural firm Populous, faculty, staff and students. Guests were welcomed by the pep band, cheerleaders and members of the Crusader football team in uniform.
University President Randy O'Rear started the event by tracing some of the history of the UMHB football team, which in its 14 years of existence, has won or shared 9 American Southwest Conference championship titles and hosted more than 200 All-American players.
"Our football program has a proud past and enthusiastic goals for the future, but there has been one thing missing: a home stadium to call our own," O'Rear said. "Today we begin a new chapter in the history of Cru Football."
Vice President of Student Life Byron Weathersbee discussed the role that the new student union would play in the lives of Mary Hardin-Baylor students. He described it as a place where young men and women could meet on common ground to build relationships and discuss everything in their lives.
"A building like this is a unifying force that brings students together, not only with one another but with faculty, staff, alumni, and guests," Weathersbee said. "It provides a forum for divergent viewpoints and creates and environment where everyone feels welcome."
Head Coach Pete Fredenburg was joined at the podium by coaches and players from the last decade and a half of UMHB football. He looked back on his first meeting with Dr. Jerry Bawcom and athletic director Ben Shipp to discuss starting a football program at the university.
"At that point they didn't have helmets, they didn't have uniforms, but they had a dream," Fredenburg said.
For the first time ever, the university broadcast the groundbreaking live on the web. The live stream was available on UMHB Facebook page and was viewed by more than 30 people.
The new 10,000 capacity stadium and student union building will be built near the center of the campus on University Drive, adjacent to the Frank and Sue Mayborn Campus Center. By locating the complex near the Mayborn Center (which houses the university's arena) and nearby intramural fields, the university will create a "student activity zone" surrounded by student residence halls and apartments.
"The building of these two projects is not only an accomplishment, but also a commitment," O'Rear said, "a commitment to keep recruiting, keep growing and keep working toward our goal of becoming the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest."
The combined cost of the student union building and the football stadium is expected to be more than $50 million. The timeline for the project calls for the complex to be completed by fall 2013.