I recently had the opportunity to visit some very palatial and beautiful high school football stadiums in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, as well as right here in the Greater Houston area.
On any given Friday night in the state of Texas—from Amarillo to El Paso to the valley in Brownsville—you’ll find the locals supporting their beloved hometown team. They fill the stands on both sides, having sold out stadiums and standing room-only crowds. They yell, scream, and shake their cowbells. It’s truly the only game in town, and the place to be on Friday nights. It’s “Friday Night Lights” live and in person.
Those stadiums are like local shrines. Some are nostalgic and iconic to their fans. They have stood the test of time. They hold some special Friday night memories. The friendly confines of those old stadiums, along with the raucous and boisterous home crowd, has given the home team a hometown advantage on many Friday nights. The fans hold such a sentimental connection to the hallowed grounds of those stadiums.
There’s a saying that everything is bigger in Texas, including their high school football stadiums.
A recent trend in the Lone Star state, in the last ten years, is that school districts are building new upscale multimillion-dollar football stadiums, field houses, and practice facilities. These stadiums have amenities such as giant replay screens, two- and three-story press boxes, luxury boxes, field turf, season ticket sections, first-class locker rooms, and medical facilities.
In August 2012, Allen, TX, which is an affluent suburb north of Dallas, opened at the time it was built. It was the largest, most expensive high school stadium in the country. It cost taxpayers $60 million and has a seating capacity of 18,000. In 2016, only four miles away in McKinney, TX, they broke ground and built a $69.9 million stadium, which made it the most expensive in the country. Here in the Greater Houston area, Katy is an eight-time state champion. They were not to be outdone after breaking ground and building Legacy Stadium in 2017, at a cost of $70.3 million, making it the costliest high school stadium in the country.
Other Greater Houston area school districts that have built new stadiums include: The Berry Center in Cy Fair ISD, opened in 2006; Challenger Stadium in Clear Creek ISD, built in 2015; Freedom Field in Alvin ISD, built in 2017; and Planet Ford Field in Spring ISD.
All these stadiums cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.
It’s time for the largest school district in the state of Texas, Houston Independent School District (HISD), to follow suit and build one of these state-of-the-art stadiums. They currently have three original stadiums: Delmar was built in 1957; Butler Stadium was built in 1965; Barnett Stadium was built 1978; and Jones Cowart Stadium, which was formerly in North Forest ISD before being absorbed into HISD in 2013, was built in 1955.
Out with the old and in with the new.
It’s time to tear down the 65-year-old Delmar Stadium and build a brand-new stadium. It’s long overdue. The kids in HISD deserve to have an opportunity to play in the same type of facilities as the suburban districts. Let’s not play politics and let’s invest in our kids.
Sports plays a vital role in developing a well-rounded student. Let’s give them something they can be proud to compete in. A first-class venue with first class amenities.
Let’s go one step further and build an adjourning Sports Hall of Fame and a Ring of Honor that will honor some of the all-time sports greats of the past. Not only will this be great for HISD but will also be great for our city.
It’s time for all the major decision makers in this city to come together and make this happen.
“I JUST TELL LIKE IT IS”
Burl “The Coach” Jones