Everything’s Bigger in Texas

When I was a student at Mizzou back in the 90s, I remember reading articles where potential recruits would say things like, “my high school facilities were better than what Missouri has.”  Back in the ’90s, that was true.  Since then, the athletic department has upgraded Faurot Field and turned it into an excellent college football venue.  Many other universities have also invested millions in facility upgrades.

But some high schools have also upgraded their facilities.  Check out this one:

Just in case you forgot how important high school football is in Texas, the residents of Allen will soon have a $59.6 million stadium that will leave no doubt.

Next month in the booming north Dallas suburb, ground will be broken on a state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat facility that will feature two decks, a video scoreboard, four concession stands and 12 restrooms. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2012.

Dallas Jackson, the author, further writes that the stadium was part of a larger capital-only $120 million bonding bill, and it ate up half the budget.  The rest of the bill went to other non-sports capital projects in the school district.  He implies that this should shoot down any “stereotypes that Texans care more about touchdowns than textbooks… .”

While it is undoubtedly true that the good folks in and around Allen care more about their kids’ education than a new football stadium in the grand scheme of things, 50% of the bill went to build an HS football stadium suggests otherwise at the margin.  The opportunity cost of a new high school football stadium is other capital projects geared more towards the mind than the body.

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Author: Phil Miller

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4 thoughts on “Everything’s Bigger in Texas”

  1. Interesting story, sort of like “Friday Night Lights.” Sad commentary if the town runs into economic problems because of this debt. A new football stadium, especially at the high school level may not bring in enough revenue.

  2. Well, not everything. Indiana has, and has forever had, the largest high school basketball facilities in the US. (At least measured by seating capacity.) I grant that basketball facilities are easier to put to other uses, but, still…From Wikipedia

    New Castle 9,325
    Anderson 8,996
    Eash Chicago 8,296
    Seymour 8,110
    Richmond 8,100
    (Then one from Arizona and one from Texas)
    Elkhart 7,373
    Michigan City 7,304
    Gary West Side 7,217
    Washington 7.090
    Marion 7.054

    Yep, 10 of the 12 largest high school basketball spaces in the US are in Indiana.

  3. Indiana does have 10 of the 12 largest basketball areanas. But they were all built in the mid to late 20th Century during the heyday of the single class Indiana High School Basketball Tournament (think “Hoosiers”). During those Tournaments days, even the venues on the list ablve weren’t big enough. Nowadays, if the Anderson Wigwam weren’t on a list of Historic Places, it might have been demolished. There was recent talk of closing it down because of the upkeep costs but the coach threatened to quit if they did.

    In a suburban Indianapolis school corporation, a referendum to delay a tax decrease failed last Fall because of anger over the “Taj Mahal” football stadium built by a previous school board causing property taxes to rise. It cost a whopping $4.3 million.

    I guess Hoosiers just don’t understand the value of high school sports.

  4. I have my doubts about that list of basketball arenas. There are at least two school arenas here in Houston that have larger seating capacity for basketball. One of which, the Berry Center, is part of the school district I live in. It has 8,300 permanent arena seats plus additional portable seats. Look up Berry Center on Google, it is bigger and nicer than the Division I arenas in the Houston area!

    Berry Center is a football stadium/basketball arena complex owned by the local school district that cost about $80 million to build a few years ago. You will rarely hear the district call the basketball arena a basketball arena though. The main justification for it was so the district could hold graduation convocations within the district instead of using other Harris County publicly financed arenas like Toyota Center or Reliant Stadium (which is where convocations were held before Berry Center was built). The economics made no sense at all. They tried to claim that the ISD needed to build their own convocation hall because it costs the community $50,000 (I believe that was their figure) to drive to Reliant Stadium. Um, ok, $50k a year is a lot cheaper than building, maintaining, and paying off an arena that costs tens of millions of dollars. Perhaps the only reason why the bond passed was because the district combined the stadium/arena complex bond with a very popular school construction bond plan. In order to build the new schools, the voters HAD to build the stadium.

    Anyway, don’t be surprised if more basketball arenas are built under the guise of convocation halls in Texas and other states. The funny thing is that nobody here cares about high school basketball, but yet we have larger and nicer arenas than much of Indiana even!

    As far as football goes, I think you guys know about football and Texas. It is not as bad here in the Houston area as it is in the Dallas area, but even we see some ridiculous stuff here. It is not unusual for school districts here to avoid building new schools, even if they are needed, just to avoid watering down the football team! Then again, spending money on football might be better educationally than spending it on textbooks. I think you guys have read about what the state wants to put in the Texas textbooks. Yikes!

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