On August 31st, 2012 Allen ISD (located in Allen, TX) opened Eagle Stadium to the public for the first time. At the time, Eagle Stadium was the most expensive high school stadium in Texas, priced at $60 million. Shortly after Eagle Stadium was built, other Texas districts began to follow Allen’s precedent. This was most notably shown in 2014 when Katy ISD passed a bond which included the construction of a new stadium priced at $59 million which would replace the district’s original stadium, Rhodes Stadium (built in 1981). In 2016 Allen ISD’s rival, McKinney ISD, received approval to build a facility that would cost $70 million. After news of McKinney’s bond broke, a student from the McKinney ISD community made the statement, "Oh, it's a rivalry… I have pride knowing my district is going to have the most expensive stadium in the country." This suggested Allen and McKinney were in an arm’s race to have the best stadium in all of Texas, meaning both districts were determined to being superior over the other. With McKinney ISD setting the standard for new football stadiums in Texas, Katy ISD re-evaluated their original price and increased it to $72 million, making their stadium the most expensive in Texas.
Backstory and Context
On August 17th, 2017 Legacy Stadium was officially opened to the public and became the most expensive high school football stadium in Texas. After the stadium was opened to the public, people quickly noticed the unique features Legacy Stadium had to offer the community. For example, the field is composed of an artificial turf called Helix Technology Refill which is a feature not offered at Rhodes Stadium. Legacy Stadium’s field being constructed of this specific type of turf is worth noting because Helix Technology Refill is easier to preserve when compared to freshly grown grass. Another feature that visitors may be unaware of is the suites and press boxes Legacy Stadium has to offer. These suites were built in order to allow distinguished guest and important district faculty to enjoy games or events that are held at Legacy Stadium. This feature is not offered for those viewing a contest or performance at Rhodes Stadium. In addition, this construction of suites and press boxes suggest the idea that Legacy Stadium wanted to incorporate a way to properly honor those who the district felt were important to Katy ISD community. Lastly, Legacy Stadium offers 2,322 more seats than Rhodes Stadium which has 9,978 seats. Katy ISD likely equipped Legacy Stadium with 12,000 seats to account for the district’s ever-growing population.
Outside of football, the stadium has private event rooms on site that can be used for conferences and banquets for the many different athletic programs Katy ISD has to offer. In terms of what takes place on the field, Legacy Stadium can host any event ranging from soccer games to color guard tournaments. Creating a stadium with many functions was important to the district, as Katy ISD declared it wanted to construct a stadium that could be used by the entire community. Legacy Stadium being a multipurpose stadium puts forth the idea that Katy ISD equally supports all the sports and extracurricular activities that its schools have to offer. Furthermore, this dispels the notion that the district was putting a higher value on football than it was academics and other extracurricular activities.
When the Katy community found out Legacy Stadium was going to be built, a majority of those in the district were generally pleased with the thought of Katy ISD building a luxurious a stadium. However, it’s worth noting that Katy ISD faced its fair share of controversy while Legacy Stadium was being constructed. When Katy ISD passed its $748 million bond in 2014, the cost to build Legacy Stadium was originally $59 million. This price was a substantial drop compared to the previously proposed price of $69 million in 2013. However, once construction began the district upped the price of the stadium to $72.1 million. Katy ISD justified this price increase by claiming they needed to renovate the roads surrounding the stadium as well as add a video replay board. The district stated that the roads surrounding the stadium had to be renovated because failure to do so would result in difficulty entering and exiting Legacy Stadium once completed. The noticeable price increase and Katy ISD’s justification of it caused members of the community to question whether or not the district was placing a higher value on athletics than it was education. This led many people to claiming that the stadium was a waste of taxpayers’ dollars and illustrated the idea of Katy ISD placing a higher value on extracurricular activities than academics.
When Allen ISD’s Eagle Stadium was opened in 2012, the state of Texas was shocked by the $60 million price tag attached to the stadium. However, McKinney ISD seemed determined to one-up Allen. This is likely due to the fact that the districts are rivals and are only separated by a total of 7.1 miles. As a result, McKinney ISD passed a bond in 2016 that granted the district permission to construct an even more expensive and impressive stadium, McKinney ISD Stadium. McKinney ISD’s proposed stadium will cost the district a total of $70 million and expresses the idea that McKinney has entered an arm’s race with Allen. When looking at the recent arms-race between Allen and McKinney, it’s possible that Katy ISD could potentially start an arms race of its own with neighboring districts such as Houston and Fort Bend ISD. Katy ISD has numerous reasons for wanting to start something like this. The most important and notable reason is Katy ISD has expressed the desire to be mentioned in the same conversation as Houston and Fort Bend ISD when talking about the athletic programs each district has to offer their respective communities.
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