Sunday, January 30, 2011

Allen Eagles $60 Million Stadium Project Gets NY Times Nod

And the Old Gray Lady is gawking.  A bit.

What a kick I got when I opened my New York Times this morning to find a profile on Allen ISD's stadium project.  Top of the sports page fold, no less.

It's what I expected: a well-written article outlining the new 18,000-seat shrine that will feature "a two-tier press box, an indoor golf practice area, a high-definition video scoreboard, a practice room for wrestling, and enough parking for every car in Dallas, or close."

Author Greg Bishop even points out that "Allen ranks among the state’s top academic school."

But he exhibits the utter shock and disbelief that most people do (let's just say it: the folks who ain't from here) when being introduced to Texas high school football.

"This is no ordinary stadium, in no ordinary state, where only football supersedes faith and family. Super Bowl XLV will take place a short drive southwest next Sunday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, but folks here know all about the sport’s oversize importance. Here, even the stadium is big."

He also questions the practicality, and rightfully so, of building a huge, $60 million sports behemoth when education budgets for most schools across the state are dwindling. 

"To some, however, the stadium project will always embody excess simply because of its size and cost.
In fact, with significant education cuts looming across the state, Allen anticipates an increasingly negative reaction as the stadium nears completion, with its first game scheduled for August 2012."

It's always a treat when non-Texans visit their first high football game or go to a Friday morning pep rally.  They can't believe the size of the stadiums, the pageantry of the experience or the passion Texas high school football fans have for their sport.  Those experiences and the memories that last are part of what makes being a Texan so great.

Some visitors get it and become just as obsessed.  Others roll their eyes at the size of the players, the size of the cheerleading squads and decibel level at which the mothers are yelling for their sons.  Those are the folks that go back home and tell their friends about those "Crazy Texans!!!!"

No matter.  That, too, is perhaps what makes high school football here such a religion and I think  Bishop captures that:

"Allen is building perhaps the most impressive high school stadium.

But it will not be the state’s biggest.

At least four high school stadiums are larger.

Which makes perfect sense, at least in Texas"

Doesn't it?  What do you think?
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