Everything's bigger in Texas, it's often said. It's true about the size of the state and its high school football stadiums.
In a few days, the folks here will be celebrating Christmas, but it'll be another eight months before they get the present they've long desired. That's when kids from this tony suburb north of Dallas will finally get to play in a new $60 million high-school football stadium. Many see this as yet another sign of the excesses of youth sports in America.
That's Mark Yost writing about a new high school football stadium in Allen, Tx. Before we criticize the folks in Allen, Tx., note they are not gutting their academics to pay for football.
Further blunting criticism of the $60 million stadium's price tag is the fact that Allen clearly isn't sacrificing academics for athletics. The 650,000-square-foot high school was completed in 1999 at an initial cost of $59 million and includes science labs, a student newspaper and a modern television broadcast studio where students get experience in front of and behind the camera. The school system is rated "Exemplary" by the state, and the stadium is part of a $120 million high-school expansion project that includes a new auditorium that will be used by the music and theater programs.
And, the citizens of Allen are paying for the whole thing themselves. They passed a special bond referendum that met only token resistance. For all the Internet and media chatter about the stadium, Allen isn't apologizing for the price tag.
I asked Mark what "token resistance" is and he said the bond referendum passed by more than 70%.
As readers know, I am not a fan of public funding for sports stadiums because neither a sports contest nor a stadium satisfy the definition of a public good, especially when that public funding largely ends up benefiting a small slice of the population. And at least in college and professional sports, I'm not convinced any positive externality is not somehow captured by the program through souvenir and clothing sales. But when a bond referendum for a stadium passes by such a large margin, it's hard to argue against public funding in that particular case.