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$100 million gift from Alejandra de la Vega-Foster and Paul Foster paved way for ‘iconic’ new basketball pavilion
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$100 million gift from Alejandra de la Vega-Foster and Paul Foster paved way for ‘iconic’ new basketball pavilion

As co-owner of three professional sports teams, including the Mexican Division 1A soccer club in Juárez, Mexico, Alejandra de la Vega-Foster clearly has a passion for sports.  

“I guess I’ve always been involved or around sports,” said de la Vega-Foster, who also played high school basketball at Loretto Academy in El Paso and collegiately at Monterrey Tech in Mexico. “As a fan, sports provide that connection with your roots, whether it’s your university or your town or your colors. That’s something I see in Baylor.”

Alejandra and her husband, Paul, made the largest gift in Baylor’s history – a $100 million donation that sparked the Give Light campaign, created what’s now known as the Foster Academic Challenge and provided significant funding for the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion that becomes the new home for Baylor men’s and women’s basketball.

 “We’ve been very fortunate in our business endeavors,” Alejandra said, “and that gives us the possibility of contributing either to our community, which is the Borderplex of El Paso and Juárez, where we’re involved in several different initiatives; or in Paul’s case, to Baylor, which through the years I’ve developed a love for Baylor. We are very happy to be able to participate in some way towards making the experience at Baylor even better.”

While Alejandra is “all in now,” Paul’s connection with Baylor began in 1975 when he came to Waco as a 17-year-old undergrad majoring in pre-med. His medical school plans changed during his freshman year when Paul had to go to the bookstore to pick up a shrink-wrapped rat and take it to the biology lab to dissect.  

“I remember it very vividly,” said Paul, the CEO of Franklin Mountain Investments and founder and former chairman of Western Refining. “On my way to the lab, carrying this rat, I made up my mind that this is not what I wanted to do. That was a big move from pre-med to business, but there was no question that that’s what I wanted to do.”

Growing up in Lovington, New Mexico, an oil town in the southeast corner of the state, Paul said his summer jobs were always in ranching or oil and gas, “being a roustabout or working on rigs. So, I was very familiar with it.”

After graduating from Baylor with a degree in accounting in 1979, Paul’s first job was as an internal auditor with Dallas-based Southern Union Gas. Promoted to the refining division during his first year with the company, Paul transferred to Hobbs, N.M., “which coincidentally was only 20 miles from my hometown.”

“That’s kind of what got me into the refining side,” he said. “I’d always been interested in oil and gas, but I didn’t really quite know what I wanted to do. I was working for a refinery in El Paso that went bankrupt. And that’s what created my opportunity. Over a period of several years, I figured out a way to buy (Western Refining) and moved back to El Paso to do that.”

After 20 years as the CEO at Western Refining, Paul took on another challenge five years ago as founder and CEO of Franklin Mountain Investments, whose affiliates include Franklin Mountain Energy, Franklin Mountain Industrial and Franklin Mountain Property Services. The namesake Franklin Mountains are a small range 23 miles long and three miles wide that extend from El Paso into New Mexico.  

“The biggest company that I’m involved with right now is Franklin Mountain Energy,” Paul said. “That’s an oil-drilling production company based in Denver, but all of our production is in southern New Mexico. So, we’re drilling wells and producing oil and shipping it to refineries. So now, I’m on the other side of the business after selling my refining assets.”

Successful on her own, de la Vega-Foster is Vice President of Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera, a family-owned company that operates over 300 convenience stores in the City of Juárez and northern Chihuahua, Mexico.  

Running the large company with her sister and brother, “who lives and Dallas and is involved a bit more from a distance,” Alejandra said “the three of are very close.” She also owns the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Juárezand holds the franchise rights for La Madeleine Country French Café in El Paso, southern New Mexico and Arizona markets.  

In the sports realm, the Fosters are co-owners of MountainStar Sports Group, the operating entity of the El Paso Chihuahuas, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres; El Paso Locomotive, a USL professional soccer team; and FC Juárez, the professional soccer club in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

A couple years ago as a prominent businesswoman, Alejandra said, “We firmly believe that teams are always community assets that help improve the quality of life. I am very passionate about football, but without a doubt I believe that the objective of the club goes far beyond the field.”

Generous and longtime benefactors, Paul and Alejandra made a $35 million donation in 2013 for the Paul L. Foster Success Center that houses the Hankamer School of Business, with a portion of the gift also providing support for McLane Stadium.

 “The business school was where I got my training, learned my business acumen, if you will,” Paul said. “Just always felt like if I ever had the opportunity, I would give back. I left Baylor far better equipped to take on the world than when I got there, for sure. And I attribute that to Baylor.”

On May 4, 2019, the school released information about a $100 million donation to the Give Light Campaign, the largest current gift ever received by Baylor University from the then-anonymous philanthropists. And then, in November 2021, the university announced the naming of the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion and the Foster Academic Challenge, which had already funded 14 faculty-endowed chairs.

Built along the Brazos River on the west side of I-35, the Foster Pavilion is a contemporary fieldhouse that will house 7,500 fans and give the Baylor men’s and women’s basketball teams one of the best home-court advantages in the country.  

Baylor Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades said “Alejandra and Paul’s transformational generosity will provide our student-athletes the opportunity to compete, train and develop in a state-of-the-art facility . . . which will enhance our student-athlete and fan experience for our basketball programs.”

Paul, who became a passionate fan during his undergrad days in the 1970s, said the pavilion “will be one of the loudest, most unfriendly places. And that’s a good thing.”

“Obviously, Baylor needed a newer, better facility,” he said. “Not that the Ferrell Center is terrible, it’s just outdated. This will be new and exciting and right there on the river, catty-cornered from (McLane Stadium). I think it will be an iconic part of that campus for a very long time.”

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