Foster Pavilion experience louder, closer to action than Ferrell


After witnessing the first game at Foster Pavilion, Baylor basketball fans agreed: The arena lived up to the four years of hype.

While small parts of the $213 million arena complex remained unfinished for the debut game Tuesday, fans said they were impressed with the arena’s field house design, which stacked seats and put fans closer to the court, creating a louder atmosphere and tougher home court advantage.

With 7,000 seats and 500 standing room spots, the arena was filled by tipoff Tuesday night as fans cheered the Bears to a 98-79 victory over the Cornell Big Red.

Sound levels during the game frequently exceeded 100 decibels after big plays, the phone app Decibel X showed, with a peak of 112.6 db after a Yves Missi alley-oop dunk in the first half. Loudness was an intentional part of the design, in fact. Henry Howard, associate athletic director for capital projects, said the acoustics are meant to bounce sound back to the court, especially to the visiting team’s bench.

The new stadium has fewer seats than the relatively cavernous Ferrell Center, which has 10,284.

Baylor junior Jack Donahue said he appreciated the “ACC vibe” of Foster, referring to the Atlantic Coast Conference. He said Baylor’s fieldhouse design favors a smaller school like Baylor as more fans will pack into the arena. He also said compared to Ferrell, a lot of intentionality went into the design to create the home court advantage.

“The layout just feels smoother,” Donahue said. “It’s better looking to the eyes, actually. Everything seemed like there was a reason for it. Not to crap on Ferrell, but it just kind of seemed like it was put together and there was not that much engineering behind it. But this one, it seemed there was thought in every detail, like even seat placement.”

Donahue said the noise at Ferrell “wasn’t even on the same playing level” as Foster.

“You can’t even compare the two,” he said.

Travis Carver, a Baylor superfan often seen at games wearing a bear headdress and gold chain, said Foster is “everything advertised and more.”

“It’s beautiful,” Carver said. “It’s everything you could want out of a basketball arena. I’ve been all over the Big XII. It’s obviously not as big as Allen Fieldhouse, but it’s the same feel. We’re so close to the court. That was my biggest complaint about the Ferrell Center is how far away we were.”

Carver also said Foster “takes the cake” for the best arena cosmetic-wise. He singled out the scoreboard and ribbon boards and padded seats for praise.

“The fan experience so far is amazing,” Carver said.

Carver also said the design will help create a better home court advantage for the Bears.

“Everything is just more condensed,” Carver said. “So the sound level on the court is going to be that much louder, which is going to contribute to that home court advantage. We really need it. So I think it’s just gonna make it better for our teams.”

Willie Strickland, Baylor class of 1974, attended the kickoff game with his son, Matt, class of ‘15.

“I’m so excited I can hardly stand it,” Willie Strickland said.

Willie estimated he has been to 40 games at the Ferrell Center, while Matt said he attended nearly every men’s and women’s home game during his undergrad years as a Bear Pit Officer.

While the Stricklands’ season ticket seats were near the top of the arena, Willie Strickland said he still had a great view of the court, and a much better one compared to a similar seat at the Ferrell Center.

Matt Strickland also said Baylor has done a good job of directing traffic and parking around the stadium.

Getting Foster ready for Tuesday night’s game was a race to the finish, as much work remained to be done inside the arena only two weeks prior to tip-off. However, crews managed to get everything ready for game day and even had University Parks Drive open to shuttles. Howard said work will continue on the basketball development center, locker rooms, practice courts and outdoor decorations into the summer.

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