The Allen High School football team—months shy of pursuing a third straight Texas state championship—has a foundation as strong as any program in the nation. It seems the same can't be said for Eagle Stadium, the squad's expansive home venue that rivals some college facilities.
Less than 21 months after a $60 million project concluded with the first kickoff of Allen's title-winning 2012 campaign, Eagle Stadium is closing down for 2014, reports Julieta Chiquillo of The Dallas Morning News.
Following two seasons of spectacular action under the bright lights of an unrivaled high school football setting, the gridiron palace is going dark.
"The stadium is not safe for public assembly," superintendent Lance Hindt told Chiquillo.
Though a final analysis of the stadium's structure is not anticipated until June, The Dallas Morning News received documents that provide damning evidence against those who'd prefer the 18,000-seat facility remain packed this fall.
The report states that "engineers have found design deficiencies at the concourse level." It also notes that "some support structures were not designed in a way that would hold the weight anticipated on that level of the stadium."
Preliminary findings initially shut down the facility in February. This latest development leaves a powerhouse football program and its northern Dallas suburban community searching for answers.
Voters gave the green light for groundbreaking in 2009, when the project was formally approved. Aside from vast spectator seating, this endeavor also included the installation of NaturalGrass Matrix turf, a weight room and a 75-by-45-foot HD video scoreboard, according to Catherine Ross of NBC News in Dallas-Fort Worth.
You can make a strong case that high school football pride has deeper roots in Texas than anywhere in America. By moving into its shiny, new digs, Allen upped the ante.
"There's a competition—not only on the field, but off the field—where they're going to want larger stadiums as well," architect Christian Herr, who worked on the project, told Ross two weeks before Eagle Stadium hosted its first game.
Bleacher Report detailed the complex last year in a video:
Once the home of Texas' hottest team, it's now set to sit dormant as Allen undergoes its quest for a third consecutive 5A state championship. At this stage, the outlook for Eagle Stadium isn't much clearer beyond 2014.
"The district is more than committed to getting that done as quickly as possible," Allen school board president Louise Master told Chiquillo. "But at the same time we're not going to put a Band-Aid on it."
The Eagles will spend this season playing home games in two stadiums in neighboring Plano, according to The Dallas Morning News. Allen opens Aug. 29 at the University of North Texas against two-time defending 4A state champ Denton Guyer.
Even without a high-stakes stadium controversy, a national spotlight would've shined on the Eagles throughout 2014. The team is chasing national supremacy and features several top-tier college prospects.
Quarterback Kyler Murray, a rising senior who remains unbeaten as a starter, is considering scholarship offers from Oregon, Auburn, Texas A&M, Ohio State and Clemson, among others. The 5-star prospect has accounted for more than 8,300 offensive yards and 107 touchdowns in his past two seasons.
Wide receiver Jalen Guyton caught 13 touchdown passes from Murray in 2013. He committed to Notre Dame in March.
While it was never in question, nationwide attention is sure to remain on Allen moving forward.
Not necessarily because of the golden-armed quarterback whose father starred at Texas A&M. Not even due to the massive rising junior rapidly developing into the nation's most dominant blocker.
For today, at least, the narrative centers on a web of cracks spreading within an elaborate stadium that was supposed to raise the bar in a football-frenzied state.