Photos: Texas high school to open $60M football field of dreams

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ALLEN, Texas (AP) -- A wealthy Dallas suburb is preparing to christen its new $60 million high school football stadium replete with 18,000 seats, a towering upper deck and a 38-foot-wide high-definition video screen.

Allen High School will have to take down defending state champions Southlake Carroll on Friday night if it's to open its new stadium with a win.

While other school districts are struggling to retain teachers and keep classroom sizes down, Allen voters approved a $119 million bond issue that pays for the stadium and other district facilities.

Officials defend the stadium as a community centerpiece. Allen previously had to use rented bleachers and portable toilets at its old stadium.

Players say they're excited to run onto a field that compares favorably with many college stadiums.

Unprecedented amount of money spent on a high school sports facility

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Walk into the new Allen Eagle Stadium and you understand exactly what they mean. There's nothing like it anywhere in the country.

When Eagle Stadium opens on August 31, it will instantly become the nation's largest and most expensive high school football stadium.

At first glance, it's hard to believe it's a high school stadium. It holds 18,000 fans — 4,000 more than district's old stadium.

"Eighteen-thousand seats is definitely something that is unheard of in terms of a high school stadium," said Christian Herr, who works with the architectural firm that designed the stadium.

Even though a single game has yet to be played at Eagle Stadium, its size and price tag are making national headlines. College recruiters who visit Allen are also in awe.

"During the recruiting season, there were a lot of colleges coming in here," said Allen Coach Tom Westerberg. "Coaches were taking pictures and bringing them back."

So, what about that exorbitant price tag? Allen voters approved bonds in 2009 to build the stadium.

"As far as the price tag, the citizens of Allen approved that," said Steve Williams, Allen ISD athletic director. "And so, it was something they felt like they needed and something they voted for."

Allen will play only six regular season games at the stadium this year. But, district officials emphasize the athletic complex will be used every day, all year round. Among the amenities are a vast weight room, an area for the three-time state wrestling champs and an indoor golf practice area.

"If they didn't want it, they could have voted it down," Westerberg said. "And they didn't."

Some other features of Eagle Stadium include a 75-foot long high-definition video scoreboard, 42 concession stands and 192 public restrooms.

The first game will pit Allen against nemesis Southlake Carroll on August 31.

The Associated Press contributed to this story