In Texas, high-school football is a very, very big deal. You don’t need Coach Eric Taylor to tell you that, across the state, the biggest event every week in the fall is the local game.
But the stadium that will soon be built in McKinney, Tex., will be much, much more than a mere place where, as Buzz Bissinger put it in “Friday Night Lights,” “a set of spindly stadium lights rises to the heavens to so powerfully, and so briefly, ignite the darkness.”
The new facility in McKinney, located about 30 miles outside Dallas, will be America’s most expensive high school stadium ever built, by a smidge. Voters in the city of about 150,000 over the weekend approved a $50.3 million bond proposal that, when coupled with $12.5 million approved in 2000, will enable the school district to construct a $62.8 million, 12,000-seat stadium.
McKinney’s new stadium will fit right in in the Dallas area and the Lone Star State, where there’s a bit of what the Dallas Morning News refers to as a stadium arms race when it comes to replacing antiquated facilities. The city of Allen has the $60-million, 18,000-seat Eagle Stadium. Katy, Tex., and is presently building a $62.5-million stadium that is set to open in 2017. Frisco school district teams will play in a facility called The Star, a $255.5-million collaboration involving the Dallas Cowboys, who will practice there, the city of Frisco and the Frisco school district. Frisco, Allen and McKinney are located just a few miles apart, north of Dallas.
Sixty-three percent of McKinney voters approved the measure, which was part of a $220 million bond package to provide other improvements to schools, and school officials say the facility will be used for soccer games, band competitions and state football games. An adjacent activity center will be available for other events and developers hope that retail and restaurant development near the site will follow.
The district last built a stadium, the 7,000-seat facility named for Ron Poe, in 1962 and parking was an issue, with only 400 spots. Although concerns about location and cost were expressed during a February planning and zoning meeting, voters clearly felt differently.
Not everyone in McKinney has been supportive of the proposed stadium. Nearly half the residents who spoke during a planning and zoning meeting in February to rezone the stadium site talked about concerns over the location and cost, but voters clearly felt differently.
“It’s something our community will look at with great pride when they come down Highway 121,” Superintendent Rick McDaniel said (via the Dallas Morning News). “Regardless from where you’re coming from, you’ll see the stadium. And that speaks volumes.”
The trash-talking has already begun between students at Allen and McKinney, cities seven miles apart.
“They’re not gonna bring as big a crowd as us because we have 22,000 fans each game. Our stadium is still better,” said Colton Manning, an Allen High School sophomore (via Dallas’ CBS affiliate).
An unnamed McKinney student fired back: “This is just Allen’s stadium without the structural defects,” a shot at problems that forced Allen to shut down Eagle Stadium for a year because of concrete defects.