The $60 million Allen High School football stadium whose extravagance brought a national spotlight to Allen, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, is now closed due to cracks and other structural concerns.
Officials closed the stadium Thursday after extensive cracking and “other potential problems in the structure” were found along the concourse level. They declined to say what may be causing the cracks but said the issue was first discovered in August 2012, when the stadium opened, and has only gotten worse.
Interim Superintendent Beth Nicholas said the stadium was closed out of an abundance of caution during an engineering investigation of the facility, which is expected to be completed in June. The district said it is likely the problems would affect the fall football season.
Representatives from Pogue Construction, which built the facility, and the PBK architecture firm, which designed it, are in discussions with the district. Officials declined to say who would pay to correct problems, citing the ongoing investigation to determine what caused them.
For now, it seems the district and the companies are working together to fix the problem. An email from Nicholas to the board on Feb. 7 obtained through an open records request by The Dallas Morning News said, “The demand letter from our attorney was sent to both companies and they were given 30 days to respond.”
This week, Allen school trustees received an update from the engineering investigation, which is about 10 percent complete, that prompted the closure. Nicholas said the stadium was a significant investment for the community and said the structural issues are “unacceptable.”
“Our No. 1 priority must always be the safety of our students, staff and our community,” she said, adding, “We’re not happy about this. We want to get to the bottom of this because our taxpayers deserve this.”
Despite less than two years of use, cracks in the stadium are said to “range from a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch wide in sections of the concourse.”
Weather and shifting soil were cited as potential reasons for concrete cracking although officials say a specific cause at the stadium has yet to be determined.
The stadium was part of 2009 package for $119 million in bonds (closer to $200 million when you add the interest). Though sold, in part, as an opportunity to attract high-profile, revenue-generating events, those events are now being cancelled while plans for other district events like graduation remain undetermined.
If the stadium remains closed, the district will also be challenged to find alternative locations for next fall’s home football games. The district’s old football stadium remains intact, but used for nonvarsity football games and other sports.