I got my first look today at the next big Texas high school sports venue. It’s in McKinney. I haven’t seen pictures of the finished product, but it’s going to be a big and shiny place.
They’re building a football stadium on the McKinney High School campus. It’s going to be just a little bigger and a perhaps a good bit more expensive than a football complex that opened down the road in Allen, home of the Allen High School Eagles — who happen to be the defending Class 6A football champs in football-mad Texas.
So, what’s the point here? A couple of things really.
They take their football seriously in this part of Texas. I won’t say that high school football is any bigger in North Texas than it is in, say, the Panhandle or in the Golden Triangle — two communities where my wife and I lived for more than three decades.
The gold standard for big-time high school football — as I have measured it — still is in Beaumont. In 1984, a young high school football coach died. His name was Alex Durley. Two years earlier, he led the newly constituted Westbrook High Bruins to the Class 5A football championship. Westbrook was the creation of a merger between two high schools: Forest Park and Hebert.
Durley was named head coach of the new school’s football team. He was an African-American gentleman. Forest Park was the mostly white school; Hebert was the mostly black school.
The new school won and Durley became a community icon. Indeed, on the day of his funeral in 1984, all three Beaumont-Port Arthur broadcast channels carried it on live television.
So … yes, football is big in Texas. It’s so big that communities spend serious money to build these sports venues. The Allen High stadium cost a touch more than $60 million. The McKinney High palace will cost about $70 million. They fill the Allen Eagles stadium for every home game with about 20,000 fans; McKinney’s new venue will be filled, too.
Before we get all worked up over all this money, let’s remember one thing: The voters of these two school districts approved the expenditure at the ballot box. It’s their call. Who are any of the rest of us to judge, yes?