Anyone who’s seen Friday Night Lights knows high school football in Texas is no joke. It’s particularly not a laughing matter in the Dallas suburb of Allen, which just spent $60 million on a lavish new stadium for its high school football team.
When residents decided the previous 14-000-seat stadium wasn’t large enough, they approved plans for the new facility in 2009, NBC DFW reports. The Allen Eagles’ new home contains 18,000 seats, a 75-by-45 foot HD video scoreboard, a weight room and sunken-bowl design. The press room and private boxes rival those of college stadiums. It’s quite an upgrade from the old facility — one that didn’t even have built-in bathrooms.
But don’t go calling Guinness just yet: Eagle Stadium is only the third-largest high school arena in the state, though it is the largest one used exclusively by a single team. The Allen Eagles consistently rank among Texas’ top 10 football teams, having clinched the state championship in 2008 and notching up a cumulative record of 88-15 over the past eight seasons, according to MaxPreps.
“We just have to [be] blessed and humble and not take it for granted,” incoming senior and defensive back Michael Jacob told NBC. He said the team doesn’t feel additional pressure to perform well, but they’re excited to take the field on their new turf. Christian Herr, an architect who worked on the project, said he predicts other districts will get competitive once their teams play in Allen and want to build giant, lavish stadiums as well. The school’s athletic director, Steve Williams expects around 8,000 season ticket holders. But the new facility isn’t all about football, Williams told NBC. It’s also home to areas for wrestling and indoor golf.
Inevitably, though, a majority of the attention will focus on the lush, expansive field when the Allen Eagles step onto it for the first time on August 31.