ALLEN — A North Texas school district is indefinitely closing its $60 million football stadium after cracks were found in the building's concrete.
The Allen Independent School District said Thursday that Eagle Stadium would stay closed until at least June and possibly into the upcoming school year and football season.
Built in 2012 as part of a $120 million bond issue, Eagle Stadium seats 18,000 people and sports a 38-foot-wide video board. Eagle Stadium's opening was a moment of triumph for the community of Allen, a fast-growing Dallas suburb that has become home to a high school football powerhouse. The Eagles won the Class 5A Division I state championship last year.
District officials said Thursday that the facility will be evaluated after cracks were found in the concrete of the stadium concourse.
"Until the evaluation is complete and repairs are made, the facility will remain closed for student classes, activities and public use," wrote Allen Interim Superintendent Beth Nicholas in a letter to parents. "Daily class activities were relocated away from the facility beginning today."
The school district says it first noticed the cracks before the stadium even opened. The cracks have continued to deepen. For now, it appears they are isolated to the concourse area.
"This is a significant investment for our community. We are very disappointed and upset that these problems have arisen," Nicholas said. "It is unacceptable. Our students, families, and the entire community have always supported the district and our commitment to them is to make sure this issue is appropriately resolved."
Nicholas said they are working with the architect, PBK Architects, and the district's long-time general contractor, Pogue Construction, to find a solution.
"We are very frustrated. We are very concerned. We're not happy about it, of course," Nicholas said in a news conference Thursday. "And we want to get to the bottom of it because our taxpayers deserve that and our students deserve that, but we believe at this point that Pogue and PBK are going to work with us, so we're optimistic that we can work through and find a resolution and solve it amicably."
An independent engineering firm is about 10 percent into investigating the extent of the cracking. That full report won't be done until June.
"We're a partner, and we're going to be a part of the solution," said Ben Pogue of Pogue Construction. "Over the 31 years [we've been in business], we've had opportunities before. Not all of them have been this public and this high-profile, but we've taken care of them then and we'll take care of them now."
District officials defended the cost — an eye-popping figure even in football-mad Texas, home to hundreds of schools playing under the "Friday Night Lights" — by calling the stadium an investment for generations of future Eagles fans and a much-needed upgrade from the district's previous 35-year-old field.
They planned to host state playoff games and other events at Eagle Stadium. Instead, the district's graduation ceremonies will be affected and all other events are now on hold.
"The district will communicate with parents and make decisions regarding the location of graduation ceremonies in time to make sure we do not overly inconvenience our families," Nicholas said in the letter.