$70M Texas High School Stadium Under Construction Already Has ‘Greater Than Anticipated’ Cracking


Officials at a North Texas school district disclosed their $70 million football stadium has “greater than anticipated” cracking despite still being under construction. A forensic engineering firm was hired to investigate.

During a special briefing meeting held last week, Jason Bird, chief financial officers for the McKinney Independent School District, divulged, “In short, we have greater than anticipated cracking.”

Bird gave a presentation in which he told the board of trustees that school officials discovered these cracks in January. He said they notified project contractor Manhattan Construction Group and architectural firm Stantec. The areas of concern for the $69.9 million football stadium and event center are the home and visitor concourses as well as the visitor concourse lower bowl wall. The concourses are located underneath the second deck of seating.

The CFO said McKinney ISD hired a forensic engineering firm to investigate the reason for the cracking. That firm, Nelson Forensics, is the same company that examined cracks at nearby Allen ISD’s $60 million Eagle Stadium, an 18,000-seat venue that opened in 2012 and, then, was shut down for a year and a half because of structural foundation cracks. It reopened in time for the June 2015 graduation ceremony. Allen ISD officials said the $10 million in repairs came at no cost to the taxpayer.

Bird added that McKinney ISD is “aggressively” seeking answers from Nelson. School board member Amy Dankel later expressed angst that McKinney ISD officials discovered the cracks and not the contractor or architectural firms.

The contractor, Manhattan Construction, lists among its completed projects the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys; the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the Southern Methodist University campus; Reliant Stadium and BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston; the University of North Texas Apogee Stadium; the NASA Exploration Sciences Building in Maryland; and the Florida Gulf Coast University Biscayne Hall.

Stantec, an international top 10 design firm with 22,000 employees across six continents, redesigned the 8,000-seat New Caney ISD stadium and the Chicago Cub’s Wrigley Field. They also updated and expanded the University of Wisconsin Student Athlete Performance Center.

McKinney ISD school board president Curtis Rippee indicated the contractor and architect foot the bill for any repairs. “There is an agreement that’s not a McKinney ISD cost issue. That issue will be resolved by either an existing budget or by one or two providers.” He added, “We’re working diligently to find a solution for this issue.”

School district officials said they will provide another construction update at the school board’s monthly June 26 meeting.

In 2016, the McKinney ISD board of trustees voted unanimously to fold a football stadium and event center project into a $220 million school bond package. Then, the facility was budgeted at $50.3 million. Voters approved the bond package in May. However, by August, the price tag swelled to nearly $70 million, bested only by Legacy Stadium, Katy ISD’s $72 million high school football stadium, considered the most expensive high school stadium in the state and the nation. This could change if McKinney residents get saddled with any of their stadium’s repair costs.

McKinney ISD planned to open the stadium by the end of 2017. Given the snafus, Bird said, “The reality is I cannot tell you when it is going to be ready.”

In a press release issued Friday, McKinney ISD said roughly 90 percent of the stadium and its 6,300 square foot community event center are complete. Reportedly, the finished facility holds the largest high-definition video scoreboard in any Texas high school stadium, four locker rooms, and 2,482 parking spaces. The event center will accommodate 500 people for a banquet and 800 people for a lecture. District officials say they will use the event center daily for meetings, professional development, trainings, and other special events.

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