In Wake of Baylor Win, Fans and Businesses Reflect on First McLa - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

In Wake of Baylor Win, Fans and Businesses Reflect on First McLane Game Day

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(KCEN) – It was a great way to kick off the Bears' run in McLane Stadium: a blowout win over SMU,  45-0.

But as much as it was a chance for the team to prove themselves to a new student body, it was a chance for the stadium to prove itself to the country.

To alumni and new fans alike, it did just that.

A party on game day in the new tailgating section comes with a chance to look back the next morning.

Darrell Jones, who graduated Baylor in the early 80's, has fond memories of Floyd Casey, the Bears' home for more than six decades.

"It's nothing like this; nothing at all,” Jones said as he finished packing up his tailgating supplies Monday morning after the game. “This whole thing has the ‘wow' factor, and this didn't let down either."

Recent grads packing up Monday also couldn't help but compare the old and the new.

"Floyd Casey has a special place in my heart,” said Candice Eilers, who graduated in 2006.

But “it's just so much more scenic and pretty around here than it was over there,” added Kyle Eilers, also Class of ‘06

Plus, it naturally just feels newer: the concessions, the massive video screen.

“The bathrooms here are a lot nicer," Candice said with a laugh.

New students were also blown away, taking the field as the first Baylor Line to welcome the Bears onto their new turf.

"Everything was so new and sparkling,” said freshman Martha Adams, “and the field was beautiful."

"It was amazing,” said Austin Weynand, another freshman. “It was really, really exciting. I enjoyed running the Line. Brand new stadium, it was a really good experience.”

“Not the biggest stadium in the world,” he went on, “but I think the most beautiful."

A new stadium to help Art Briles and his Bears build a lasting legacy.

"The whole fan experience now, since Coach Briles has been here, has changed completely,” Jones said. “You're just much more into it now."

And with 45,733 fans as into it as they were, Baylor football has never sounded so good.

And with the stadium's proximity to downtown, and a new way to experience game day, local businesses are feeling its effects.

“We had people trickling in before the game, getting a quick drink and then catching the shuttles to the stadium,” said Gregory Drake, a barista at Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits downtown.

There actually wasn't a big change in business for Dichotomy on game day. Coffee sales were pretty consistent, but there were a few more orders at the bar.

Nothing at all like some others nearby.

"It was packed,” said Maria Benitez. She's assistant manager at Wing Stop on Franklin Avenue near University Parks Drive.

Her store had a line out the door after Baylor's win.

"It was a lot of people walking in, even before the game,” Benitez said. “We had a lot of people walking in and a bunch together in groups."

And Olive Branch Bakery and Cafe nearby still had huge crowds Monday morning.

It's thanks, at least in part, to the hype surrounding the new stadium.

"We had about 70 or 80 people out here” tailgating, Kyle Eilers said.

"It was definitely a sizeable crowd,” said freshman Alexander Law, “especially for the people running the Baylor Line."

But with all the chaos that comes with revamping how fans get to games, there weren't really any issues.

Waco Police didn't report any major problems, and they issued just one citation to a “sailgater,” a tailgater in a boat.

And as the season wears on and fans flock to Waco, the businesses who missed out this time, are keeping their heads up.

"I think this was the game where everyone was just figuring things out,” Drake said.

He means things like how to get to the game in the first place, and not as much where to grab a quick drink beforehand.

Dichotomy plans to start offering drink specials on game days to draw more customers in, and potentially coffee specials the next day as people start to leave town. 

One of the biggest problems police saw were heat-related health issues.

Agencies involved in the stadium, including the school, the athletics department, and the venue management group, met Monday to consider, among other things, opening the gates two hours before kickoff, in part, to help people stay cool.

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