Saying that high school football is big in Texas will elicit a lot of "duh" looks. In fact, if you look in a mirror right now, you'll probably see what we're talking about. But there's no harm in restating the obvious: Friday nights are meant to be spent under stadium lights (see what we did there?). And, here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we have some of the best shrines to the glorification of adolescent boys hitting other adolescent boys while grown men yell -- much like adolescent boys themselves -- to hit harder. We're talking, of course, about high school football stadiums.
For this list, we didn't seek to simply provide a rundown of the most-expensive ones or the ones with the most seats, though those factors are obviously important. No, we wanted to give the top five stadiums that we think provide the greatest high school experience in DFW. Feel free to give your own faves, tells us we're idiots, talk about your cats or note how we wasted your precious time. That's what our comment section is for ...
1. Allen's Eagle Stadium (photo above)
The first choice is an obvious one. Though it's not the biggest and doesn't have much history (yet), Eagle Stadium caused an outcry when the rest of the country, whose values are obviously way out of whack, discovered its price tag: $60 million. But with a bowl that houses 18,000 seats, a 38-foot, high-def scoreboard and a two-tier press box, Allen ISD certainly got its money's worth -- well, you know, except for the cracked concrete and the fact that the team can't play there until it's fixed. The Eagles, who have won three state titles since 2008, are playing another possible championship season (which would be their third straight) at "home" at Plano ISD's Kimbrough and Clark fields, according to The Dallas Morning News. Those are nice duds, to be sure, but when the stadium you were supposed to play in rivals many a college stadium, anything must feel like a downgrade. Those Allen kids.
2. Southlake Carroll's Dragon Stadium
Nothing really instills fear in someone like a dragon, or, more precisely, a Southlake Dragon football team. At least, we're sure that's what the Southlake boosters would tell you, though the team's slogan doesn't exactly hit like a roar and breath of fire: "Protect the Tradition." Still, the new Dragon Stadium, which held twice as many seats as the old one at a cost of about $15 million, according to the Morning News, opened in time for the 2001 season. "It's fabulous," a booster told the News when the stadium opened. "It's exactly what our Dragons deserve." One resident even said with, apparently no irony whatsoever: "It's really great to see our tax money spent on something this nice." Southlake has seen a pretty good return on its investment. After the stadium's opening, the Dragons rattled off six state championship appearances, and came away with the trophy five times (they lost to Katy by one point in 2003). According to D Magazine, the stadium now holds more than 11,000 seats, and FC Dallas used to play on its artificial turf.
3. Mesquite's Memorial Stadium
Though it opened in 1977, Memorial is still the third-largest high school football stadium in Texas, according to the Houston Chronicle. Or the second-largest if you don't count FC Stadium (the Chronicle does), which hosts some high school football games but serves primarily as FC Dallas' home turf. Compared with the top two stadiums on this list, Memorial is more of a traditional high school stadium. The stands don't wrap around the field, and the press box is only a single story, but it does have a video scoreboard and artificial turf. Back in the day, Mesquite paid $2.5 million for the 20,000-seat stadium, according to a 1977 News article, which in today's dollars is a little less than $10 million. The old stadium is getting an upgrade, however. Early this year, Mesquite approved $11 million for renovations that'll include, a new facade, bigger restrooms and a new press box projected to be ready by the 2015 season. "The renovation also includes," the News reported, "three new elevators -- the stadium in its current configuration has none."
4. Fort Worth's Farrington Field
In 1938, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the 10-year-old son of Fort Worth's late athletic director broke the ceremonial ground on what would become Farrington Field, where Fort Worth's public school kids continue to live out their football dreams (and nightmares). The stadium cost $250,000 back then -- a paltry $4.3 million nowadays. But Farrington can hold 18,500 souls and that's good enough to still make it the fifth-largest stadium in Texas (or fourth-largest if you don't count FC Stadium, which, really, who does?). It's not a bowl stadium, but the entrance's facade brings to mind the Parthenon. Really, can you think of a more appropriate allusion to how Texas puts high school football on a pedestal than a Greek temple?
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5. Plano's John Clark Stadium
Named after the man who brought Plano five state titles during his 27 years at head ball coach and athletic director, John Clark Stadium (nee John Clark Field) originally opened in 1977. Plano's three senior high school's play here, and it can hold more than 14,000 people. We couldn't find its price tag (the staff of the '70s-era News apparently didn't find that number important, unlike every other high school stadium opening it covered), but chances are it was a couple million. Fun fact: In 1979, according to the News, teens tried to burn "RHS," for Richardson High School, into the astroturf. The burned turf, more than 25 yards, cost Plano about $170,000 to replace, about half a mil now.
Send your story tips to the author, Sky Chadde.