Texas High School Football Stadium Price Tag Balloons to $70 Million

McKinney ISD

The price tag of one Texas school district’s high school football stadium and events center just ballooned to $70 million, making it, reportedly, the most expensive high school football complex in the United States.

The McKinney Independent School District announced late last week the costs to build their new high school football stadium jumped $7.1 million, bringing the stadium’s projected price to $69.9 million. Spokesman Cody Cunningham blamed the sticker shock on unexpected concrete and infrastructure costs, according to WFAA. He said: “From the time they first talked to contractors about price to when they got a firm bid, the price went up 50 percent.”

Breitbart Texas reported the McKinney ISD school board originally voted to spend $50.3 million of the taxpayers’ dollars on the 12,000-seat football stadium and events center, which will also host the school district’s soccer and lacrosse teams. Then, McKinney voters approved the stadium as part of a larger $220 million bond package, but it did not include everything. Instead of revisiting the taxpayers, district officials pulled an additional $12.5 million from an existing 2000 bond to cover infrastructure expenses, raising the stadium budget to a hefty $62.8 million, according to Community Impact. According to the McKinney Courier-Gazette, the district re-purposed bond monies earmarked for laptops and band equipment from the May 2016 Election.

Mark Penny, senior vice president of Manhattan Construction, the company overseeing the stadium project, attributed the unforeseen 11 percent or $7 million bump to supply and demand, alluding to explosive growth in north Texas. Breitbart Texas reported on the red hot residential real estate market and new home builds driving up prices.

Cunningham said McKinney ISD had a choice of either scaling down the stadium to compensate for the new costs or “building it as committed to the public.” They chose the latter. The $70 million may well make the stadium the most expensive high school football facility in the nation.

In March, McKinney ISD bond proponents insisted its existing 6,988-seat Ron Poe Stadium–built in 1962 and renovated for $5.5 million in 2007 using 2005 school bond money–was inadequate for the community’s future needs. However, Superintendent Rick McDaniel said district student population slowed. Nonetheless, McKinney ISD forged ahead with the stadium build under McDaniel’s projection logic that “these are things we’re going to need and I have to plan ahead.”

Some McKinney residents opposed the stadium, concerned over gridlock, blinding stadium lighting, and other disruptions that would make their community less desirable. Others felt the money could have been better spent.

“That’s what you are voting for – to be the biggest spenders in Texas history,” a parent told trustees. “You could have done so many other things with that money.”

In 2012, neighboring Allen ISD opened its colossal Eagle Stadium, an 18,000-seat, $60 million facility, then dubbed the most expensive high school football stadium nationwide. It later shut down for a year and a half because of structural foundation cracks. Stadium repairs cost $10 million, which Allen school district officials maintained were made at no charge to the taxpayers. The stadium reopened in time for June 2015 graduation ceremonies.

McKinney’s future high school stadium will be located approximately four to five miles north of Eagle Stadium. Also nearby is Plano ISD’s 9,800-seat Tom Kimbrough Stadium. West of McKinney is Frisco where taxpayers partially funded the new headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys, shelling out $30 million through Frisco ISD and another $60 million via the City of Frisco to share the city’s owned complex, the Ford Center at the Star, a 12,000-seat, multi-use state-of the-art event center. It is housed on the 91-acre Cowboys’ compound that boasts two outdoor practice fields, underground parking, plans for an Omni hotel hotels, retail, and a Baylor, Scott & White sports therapy research center. The total cost of the Star hovers around $1.5 billion. Friday, Frisco ISD high school football teams toured their shared new digs, the Dallas Morning News reported. Sunday marked the Cowboys first official practice onsite and the venue’s official ribbon cutting.

Last year, Houston-area Katy ISD voters approved breaking ground on an estimated $62.5 million, 12,000-seat stadium, complete with a Jumbo-tron, two-story press box and room for a high school football hall of fame.

McKinney ISD plans to break ground on the stadium in September, anticipating its completion by the end of 2017.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.