We learned something quintessentially Texan when we moved to Texas back in the spring of 1984.
It is that high school football matters — a lot! — to communities all across our vast state. Whether it’s along the Gulf Coast or throughout the Piney Woods of East Texas, or in West Texas, communities rally around their high school football team. Non-football activity virtually stops on Friday nights in the fall in places like Orange, Silsbee, Lufkin, Canadian or Pampa. It all takes place under the lights in high school stadiums all over the state.
We’ve come to understand the importance of football in Texas.
It’s with that backdrop that I found the story this morning about the new football stadium to be built in McKinney, a suburban community just a bit north of Dallas.
They’re going to spend $69.9 million for a 12,000-seat stadium. Construction starts next month and it will be open for business next year. McKinney residents got a bit of a jolt when school officials reported that increasing concrete costs drove the price of the stadium past its original price of $62.8 million.
The fascinating element, of course, is that the money was approved by voters, who approved a bond issue to build a facility that a lot of Division II colleges would love to have.
I’ve got a bit of a personal interest in this issue as well. They built an 18,000-seater in Allen, just south of McKinney a few years back. My grandson graduated from Allen High School this past year. The place is gorgeous and it, too, came via a successful bond issue election. Of course the Allen High project had its ups and downs. One of the “ups” is that the Allen Eagles have been perennial state champions in Class 6A and they fill the place when the Eagles are at home. The “down” was a big one: The stadium was closed for two seasons when they found stress fractures in the concrete that needed immediate repair.
Now is this something I could support with my vote if I was given a chance? I do not know.
The four public high schools in the Amarillo Independent School District share playing time at Dick Bivins Stadium. It’s a nice venue, too. Indeed, it beats the dickens out of the crummy little “stadium” where my high school played football back in Portland, Ore., in the old days.
I guess you just learn to accept the realities of where you live.
Football is a big deal in Texas. My sons didn’t play football when they were growing up and coming of age in Beaumont. Therefore, I generally didn’t have much vested interest in how their high school team played on Friday nights.
These days I no longer question the decisions that residents of certain Texas communities make regarding whether to build these seriously well-appointed sports venues.
If that’s what they want for their community, it’s their money to spend however they see fit.
There was a time when I’d suffer big-time sticker shock. I’ve gotten over it.
I mean, this is Texas, man!