- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
- New evidence could threaten Army sex assault case
- George Zimmerman signs autographs at Orlando gun show
- GOP lawmaker faces fire for NBA crime tweet
- Taliban vow to ‘use all force’ to disrupt Afghan elections
- Atheists sue to remove ‘Ground Zero Cross’ from 9/11 museum
- Bishop in Aleppo: ‘We Christians live in fear in Syria’
- Oscar Pistorius vomits during graphic testimony
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford flubs daylight saving time advice: ‘Turn your clocks back’
Texas high school debuting $60M stadium
Officials defend choice to finance elaborate venue
ALLEN, TEXAS — Call it the palace of high school football: A gleaming $60 million facility with seats for 18,000 roaring fans, a 38-foot-wide high-definition video screen, corporate sponsors and a towering upper deck.
Welcome to the new home of Eagles Football.
As school districts across the country struggle to retain teachers, replace outdated textbooks and keep class sizes from ballooning, the wealthy, burgeoning Dallas suburb of Allen is preparing to christen its new stadium with a sold-out Friday night matchup against defending state champion Southlake Carroll.
It’s not the biggest high school stadium in football-mad Texas, but Eagle Stadium is the grandest, with a spacious weight room for the players and practice areas for Allen High School’s wrestling and golf teams. The city decided to build it in a down economy, knowing full well it will never recoup the costs.
It’s a decision that local officials and team supporters defend, saying the stadium will serve as a community centerpiece and source of pride for years to come and will more than pay the costs of operating it.
“There will be kids that come through here that will be able to play on a field that only a few people will ever get the chance to play in,” said Wes Bishop, the father of a junior linebacker on the team and head of the local booster club.
For longtime Allen fans, it’s a giant step forward from a facility that district spokesman Tim Carroll called “inadequate in almost every way.”
The old building opened in 1976, when Allen had fewer than 8,000 residents, with 7,000 permanent seats, one concession stand and one set of bathrooms. As the town grew to its current population of 87,000, the school had to add portable toilets and rent temporary bleachers, which added 7,000 seats at a cost of $250,000 a year, Mr. Carroll said.
Today, the high school has 4,000 students enrolled and a 700-member band that’s among the biggest in the country. Collin County, which includes Allen and other Dallas suburbs, is one of the wealthiest areas of Texas — and home to some of the state’s top football teams.
About 63 percent of voters supported a $119 million bond package in 2009. Construction on the stadium began a year later. District officials went with more expensive concrete seating over all-aluminum benches, adding perhaps $4 million more to the cost, according to officials. But they said they expected this stadium to last decades.
“Our intention is not to recoup the money it cost to build the stadium,” Mr. Carroll said. “It’s not practical to say we’ll get that money back. [But] the revenue we receive from the stadium will far exceed the cost of operating it.”
While the district did not have estimates, Mr. Carroll said he expects the stadium to be competitive in hosting high school playoff games and other events. The school has also sold six sponsorships for about $35,000 a year, he said.
The new stadium revives an old argument in Texas about whether communities and their schools have their priorities straight.
In 1982, when the West Texas city of Odessa built a 19,000-seat stadium for a then-unheard-of $5.6 million, it drew scorn from some people who questioned the district’s priorities. Odessa would be featured a few years later in the book “Friday Night Lights,” a national best-seller that inspired a movie and a TV series.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Arrest made in Ohio bar shooting that killed 3
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- Charges filed against accused 'shadow campaign' financier
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again