Friday Night Lights Out: New $60 Million HS Stadium 'Not Safe,' Closed for Season

Friday Night Lights Out: New $60 Million HS Stadium 'Not Safe,' Closed for Season

The $60 million high school football stadium that opened in an affluent Dallas suburb less than two years ago has been deemed “not safe,” and will be closed for the 2014 season. Though a plan for repairs is under way, it is unclear if the stadium will ever open again.

It is also uncertain whether Pogue Construction, the company that built the stadium, and PBK Architects, the company that designed the it, will pay for any repairs or be held financially accountable to the taxpayers if the stadium is determined to be unsalvageable.

In 2009, voters in the Allen Independent School District (ISD) passed a $119 million bond issue to finance the stadium, a new auditorium, and a transportation center in a landslide 63 percent to 36 percent vote in which only 8 percent of eligible voters turned out.

The stadium, which seated 18,000 and had a 38-foot-wide video screen, was designed to be the home field of the Allen ISD’s district state champion high school team. Now, the team will be forced to play its 2014 home games in the home stadiums in nearby Plano.

“The stadium is not safe for public assembly,” newly appointed Allen ISD Superintendent Lance Hindt told the Dallas Morning News on Monday. Hindt was named superintendent on March 24, a month after Breitbart News first reported on February 28 that the Allen ISD announced it would shut down the stadium down for extensive repairs. 

Though the Allen ISD did not to commit to a specific timetable for the completion of repairs in the February 28 announcement, interim superintendent Beth Nichols told ESPN at the time, “We are very disappointed and upset that these problems have arisen.” Nichols vowed that “our commitment to [our students, families, and the entire community] is to make sure this issue is appropriately resolved.”

However, as the Morning News reported, three months later the stadium safety issue has not been resolved. In fact, “partial findings” of a subsequent independent analysis conducted Nelson Forensics, “indicate that some support structures were not designed in a way that would hold the weight anticipated on that level of the stadium.”

Neither Pogue Construction nor PBK Architects have been aggressive in identifying or fixing the stadium’s safety problem. That leaves the possibility of litigation by the Allen ISD very much on the table.

Hindt told the Morning News “I can’t speculate whether this will be litigated in the future. All I can tell you is we’re going to get the stadium we paid for.”

According to the Morning News, “[r]epresentatives from PBK and Pogue said Monday that they are committed to correcting problems at the stadium.”

Thus far, neither company, however, has put its money where its mouth is. Though both companies “agreed to put $1 million in an escrow account as a sign of good faith,” in April, neither has yet honored that promise.

In a letter, officials of Pogue Construction made a head scratching claim in explaining their failure to fund the escrow account. “Pogue believes such an action would be irresponsible and leave the district less, rather than more, protected,” the Morning News reported.

In a statement on Monday, however, PBK said “[o]nce a repair solution has been agreed upon, PBK and Pogue Construction will implement the repair at no cost to the district. At the end of the day, our goal is to provide the taxpayers of Allen exactly what they paid for.”

While PBK and Pogue Construction are pointing fingers of blame at each other, the attorney for the Allen ISD says both are at fault. In a letter to PBK dated April 4, the attorney wrote “[t]hese construction failures [of Pogue Design] exacerbate the already deficient design.”

Though the 2014 Texas high school football season has not yet opened, it is clear that the big losers this year will be the taxpayers of the Allen ISD.