ALLEN (CBSDFW.COM) – In a community where football is king, a crumbling palace is no small matter—especially one that cost taxpayers $60 million dollars.
“Anytime I don’t get what I paid for, I tend to get a little bit upset about that,” says Scott Jergensen, a taxpayer and Allen parent. “We didn’t get what we paid for.”
Citing significant structural problems, Allen school officials today announced that the stadium will remain closed for the 2014 season. The decision came after a group of consultants hired by the district, Nelson Forensics, identified “design deficiencies” in the elevated concourse that fail to meet building codes. The deficiencies, which officials say cannot be fixed quickly, also reduce the safety and strength of the concourse. The team’s home games will be played in nearby Plano.
“There is a difference,” says Jergensen. “It’s fun to walk into your own stadium. It’s fun to have that home field advantage. But, at the same time coach is going to do what he can for these boys and make sure they’re as successful as they’ve been in the past.”
Allen, and many fast growing suburbs, are filled with families where the ‘roots’ are freshly planted. Football in the community north of Dallas has been a unifying force. And the team has provided plenty of excitement—bringing home three state championships in the past six years.
“It’s been a wonderful way to bring the community together,” says Latricia Smith, President of Allen ISD’s Council of PTAs. Smith says students and fans are understandably disappointed that Eagle Stadium will remain closed through the fall football season—at least. But, insists that safety must come first.
“I can’t imagine—if a child had gotten hurt in that stadium– that would have just been the worst scenario,” says Smith. “It’s got to be safe and I do trust that Allen wouldn’t let us in there until it is safe.”
Eagle Stadium has been for many a source of pride in Allen. But, the $60 million dollar price tag also earned the community a fair share of critics—and now ridicule that it has been forced to close because cracking concrete has led to safety concerns.
“The story was, I could tell people I’m from Allen, Texas, and people would say ‘yeah, that’s where that football field is,” says taxpayer and parent Scott Jergensen. “Now, all of a sudden you tell people you’re from Allen, and it’s ‘oh, wait, yeah, that’s where that broken football field is,’ so yeah… it’s a little bit embarrassing.”
Allen school officials won’t know the full extent of the damage until next month. That’s when independent consultants are expected to issue a final report. And although safety is the primary issue as experts ponder repairs, homeowners want some accountability, as well.
“As a taxpayer here, something was supposed to be delivered: that’s not what we got,” says Jergensen, “and so yeah, it makes you a little bit angry. It builds the same kind of anticipation, I guess as saying, ‘oh yeah, Christmas isn’t going to be here this year, but it might be here next year.’”
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