New Events Center Unveiled in Waco

The Texas city hopes the new facility will bring in more sports events, concerts, trade shows and more.

The new BASE facility at the Extraco Event Center in Waco, Texas

The BASE (business, arts, sports and entertainment) facility has opened at the Extraco Events Center, home of the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo, in Waco, Texas. The $32 million facility was designed by Populous architects and aims to bring more sports tournaments, concerts, meetings, trade shows and community events to the city.

In 2015, Populous created a 40-year master plan for the site, identifying the need for a new expo center, and livestock and equestrian facilities, as well as high school and city sports complexes. BASE is the first project of the master plan to open and is the new "front door" to the site. Next to the existing 6,000-seat Extraco Coliseum, BASE features 52,000 square feet of exhibition space. 

“For The BASE, every decision was tested with the 40-year vision,” said Bill Bourne, the associate principal at Populous who oversaw the project. “With a focus on longevity, the materials we incorporated are durable enough for farm and equipment shows, but warm enough for weddings and private events. This meant a lot of masonry, which is great, as this allowed us to showcase the skill and craftsmanship of the local contractors.”

Populous designed BASE as a campus, and even the parking lots were created for flexibility, integrating power, water and sewer to allow for farmer’s markets and other outdoor events, and to enhance amenities for the fair’s carnival midway and livestock and equestrian competitors. Nearly every inch of BASE can be used or leased to a client for any type of event.

The front porch at the BASE event facility in Waco, Texas

The front porch area can be used for breakout space during conferences, for fans and players to take breathers during sports tournaments, and more. An open food-service area links this outdoor space with the event hall. Natural light is brought into all public spaces by a mix of translucent panels and windows.

Future phases of the master plan include the expansion and addition of facilities for equine and livestock events. The Extraco Events Center has space for 1,000 horses and will become one of the biggest venues in the area for horse and livestock shows.