$32m BASE opens at Extraco Events Center in Waco, Texas

The BASE (Business, Arts, Sports, and Entertainment) centre has opened to the public at the Extraco Events Center, home of the Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo, in Waco, Texas. The US$32m, multipurpose facility was designed by architects Populous with the goal of bringing more business and tourism to Waco including meetings and tradeshows. 

In 2015, Populous published a 40-year master plan for the site, which involved collaboration with the County, City and School District Stakeholders, and identified the need for a new Expo Center, Livestock and Equestrian Facilities, RV Parking, as well as High School and City Sports Complexes.

The BASE is the first project of the master plan to be built, and is the new front door to the site. It is situated next to the existing Extraco Coliseum, and offers visitors 52,000 sq.ft (4,830sqm) of clear-span, multipurpose flexible exhibition space.

The site was first developed in 1917 by the US Army and, in 1953, was turned into the first Heart O’ Texas Fair and Rodeo.

Now no longer just a fair ground, the Extraco Events Center is a year-round multi-use destination complemented by entertainment options at the adjacent Coliseum.

Bill Bourne, an associate principal at Populous who oversaw the project, said: “The debt service will be paid out over a 40-year period, so we wanted to give the most value to the County for what we know they need today, but also to allow the venue to adapt and accommodate future events that don’t yet exist. 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.”

The BASE has been designed to feel like a campus and nearly every inch of The BASE can be used or leased to a client for any type of event.

The facility features an outdoor front porch area which can be used for breakout space during conferences, a reception or mingling area during social events, or a place for fans and players to take a breather during all-day sports tournaments.

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