Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Allen’s Eagle Stadium has set bar that won’t be cleared for awhile
When Corsicana completed its new Tiger Stadium in 2006, the capacity was announced as 10,001. That might seem odd until you know that that its biggest rival, Ennis, opened a stadium six years earlier with a capacity of 10,000.
It’s that kind of one-upmanship, played out in bigger ways, that has changed stadiums dramatically over the last 10 to 15 years. The fields have become nicer and the press boxes have become bigger. At Class 4A and 5A stadiums, video boards are becoming common.
Everyone wants something bigger and fancier, or at the very least, to keep up with the Joneses. So now that Allen has opened up the most grandiose high school stadium in the state, and perhaps the country, what’s next?
How about a high school domed stadium with a retractable roof?
I’m kidding, of course. But some people aren’t joking when they talk about how Allen’s new Eagle Stadium, with 18,000 seats, a 38-foot wide video screen and a $59.6 million price tag, will create new standards in the stadium arms race.
In reality, Allen has set the bar so high that nobody in the state is going to leap for it. Certainly not in the foreseeable future.
“That stadium is a special thing that fit them. In a one-horse town, and with the support to do that, more power to them,” said Ed Warken, the athletic director of the Cypress-Fairbanks ISD near Houston. “But it’s not going to set a standard.”
The standard for stadiums built for 4A and 5A programs in the last 10 years is a size of about 10,000 to 12,000. Marauder Stadium, which opened on the campus of Flower Mound Marcus two years ago, seats 10,000. The C.H. Collins Complex in Denton (opened in 2004) and Dallas ISD’s John E. Kincaide Stadium (2005) each have a capacity of 12,000. Plano East, the largest high school in the state, plays its home games at Tom Kimbrough Stadium, which opened in 2004 with a capacity of 9,800.
Allen’s stadium is the first new high school venue with a capacity more than 16,000 since Odessa’s Ratliff Stadium (17,931 capacity) opened in 1982.
There’s a good reason for that. Only a large district can get the financial backing for such a stadium, and the district can’t have more than one or two high schools to divide the community fan base on a game night. The local districts that fit that description best, with one 5A high school and a big football following include Southlake Carroll, DeSoto, Duncanville, Coppell and Cedar Hill. They all have suitable stadiums that won’t need to be replaced anytime soon. The same is true for the large one- or two-school districts statewide, such as Galena Park and Deer Park in the Houston area and the Judson ISD near San Antonio.
Prosper, an affluent community north of Frisco in Collin County, might one day build an opulent stadium. Prosper is growing fast, with a high school that had 500 students in 2006 and now has more than 1,200.
In 2009, Prosper opened its $113.5 million, 590,000-square foot high school that includes a medical tech lab, a greenhouse, a broadcast studio and a nice indoor football practice facility for the team that won a 3A state title in 2008.
Even though Prosper is growing fast, it’s still a small town. Its census population two years ago was 9,423.
Allen has a population of more than 80,000 and only one high school. That’s an unusual combination, but its football stadium is even more unusual in its grandeur.
It’s the most unconventional high school stadium out there. And it will stay that way for years to come.
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.
Some notable stadiums from around the state.
Alamo Stadium, San Antonio
Opened in 1940, it has a capacity of 23,000, making it the largest high school stadium in Texas.
Mesquite Memorial Stadium, Mesquite
Opened in 1977, it’s the largest high school stadium in the Dallas area with a capacity of 20,000.
Ratliff Stadium, Odessa
Opened in 1982, the 17,931-seat stadium hosted the peak of Permian’s Mojo.
Birdville ISD Fine Arts and Athletics Complex, North Richland Hills
Opened in late 1999 (and 2000 for football), it included the first video scoreboard at a Texas high school stadium.
Kincaide Stadium, Dallas
Opened in 2005 as part of the $38.7 million Jesse Owens Memorial Complex that includes a 7,500-seat arena, the 12,000-seat facility was DISD’s first new stadium in 24 years.
Berry Center, Cypress
The 11,000-seat football stadium is part of an $84 million complex opened in 2006 that includes an 8,300-seat arena, a theater and conference center.