In 2009, Allen ISD proposed and passed a bond authorization for a $60 million football stadium that seats 18,000 and is as nice as many university football facilities. Among other features, it has an indoor golf practice area, a large wrestling facility, and a 75-foot-long high definition video scoreboard. The stadium opened in time for the 2012 school year.
Now, less than 2 years later, it’s falling apart.
After extensive cracking and structural issues were discovered, school officials closed the stadium Thursday for safety reasons. It will be closed at least through the summer, and will likely not be open in time for the fall football season.
The Dallas Morning News explains how Allen ISD glowingly spun the project when it was built:
Allen officials said at the time that the stadium would be an economic boon by attracting high-profile events, such as the Texas vs. The Nation All Star Game held last year. Rental fees for school-related, UIL playoffs ranged from $4,000 to $5,000 plus 20 percent of gross gate sales, according to the district.
But now, things don’t look quite so rosy:
Now, major events already are being canceled. Officials are scrambling to find an alternative location for graduation. And with so much not known until June, it will be a challenge to find locations for home games if the stadium remains closed. The old football stadium has been used for nonvarsity football games and other sports.
You might notice it refers to the “old football stadium.” That’s because when Allen built the $60 million Palais du Football, they already had a 14,000 seat stadium.
That’s right. Allen ISD built a $60 million 18,000 seat stadium to replace an existing 14,000 seat stadium.
But, the 14,000 seat stadium didn’t have an indoor golf practice area!
According to the Bond Review Board, Allen has over $490 million in bond debt outstanding, and if you include the interest, their total debt burden rises to over $805 million. Allen has 19,768 students according to the Texas Education Agency, which means that there is $40,760.27 in bond principal and interest per student.
In the Dallas Morning News article, Interim Superintendent Beth Nicholas “said the public should not lose confidence in the district and that this was an unforeseen event that officials are aggressively addressing.”
They could start by aggressively addressing Allen’s overspending and indebtedness.