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Official Review by Patrick Westrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
It's no secret that the state of Texas loves their football. Especially their high school football. Between the countless sports books, movies and television shows like Friday Night Lights, Varsity Blues and Carter High one might think that the only thing there is to do in Texas on a fall Friday night is go to a high school football game. In reality, it's not the only thing to do per-say but it is definitely the thing to do.
All over the state of Texas sit thousands of great high school football stadiums but only one can claim to be The World's Most Expensive High School Football Stadium, Eagle Stadium at Allen High School currently holds that title. Opened in 2012, at a cost of $60 million, Eagle Stadium definitely had its fair share of publicity of both good and bad varieties. Not only was it absurd to most of the world that a high school would spend that amount of money on a football stadium, Allen High School came under some heat in 2014 for a different reason. The building of a cathedral of High School Football was all well and good but $60 million wasn't quite enough to finish the job. The Eagles had to temporarily close Eagle Stadium due to 'structural problems' in the foundation and left the team homeless during their entire 2014 season. A season that Allen would go on to claim the National Championship, their third straight Texas 6-A State Championship and fourth Texas State Championship overall.
Regardless of the drama surrounding Eagle Stadium it is still the creme de la creme of high school football in the entire world. Whether you are a diehard sports fan or just passing thought the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Eagle Stadium at Allen High School in Allen, Texas is a great way to spend a fall Friday evening.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
If you're arriving to Eagle Stadium on an empty stomach do not fear, the Eagles have you covered. At one of the 16 concessions windows, 4 located at each corner of the stadium, you will find all of your standard stadium favorites. Ballpark hot dogs, State Fair Corn Dogs, nachos and pizza slices will run you $3 a piece while char-grilled hamburgers and cheeseburgers cost $3.50 and $4 respectively. All of these items are pretty standard when it comes to football stadiums around the country, even high school stadiums in most cases. Specialty items however are rarely found in most college football stadiums outside of the power 5 and a few top tier group of 5 teams. But what would be a rarity in 99% of other school stadiums is just a standard menu in Eagle Stadium. Chick-fil-A offers chicken sandwiches for $4 and Dickey's BBQ also provides a quality pulled pork sandwich for the same price. More specialty items include a bistro box, which contains fruit, cheese and crackers, chili cheese dogs, Frito chili pie, black angus pretzel dogs and you can even pick up a whole 8 slice pizza that will run you $20.
Eagle Stadium is a Coca-Cola house which provides six different soda options at small and large sizes (Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Sprite, Mr. Pibb, Barq's root beer and orange Fanta) for $2 and $3 respectively. Dasani bottled water is $2 while Powerade is $3 as well. On chilly Texas nights hot chocolate and coffee are both $3 and $2.
Concession areas accept cash and credit cards.
To try to compare this high school atmosphere to other high schools around the country is not possible. A big time high school football game in most states, besides Ohio, Florida and California, would draw 2,000 on a good night. Maybe 5-10k if you're at a 5-6A rivalry game in most cases. At Allen High School, 18,000 fans show up for every game, not just the big ones. There are quite a few NCAA group of 5 stadiums that do not sell that many tickets on average.
Allen High School also is home to the nation's largest marching band, The Allen Eagle Escadrille, which has over 800 members. The band normally marches into the stadium about 60 minutes before kickoff. It is truly a sight to see as they take around 5 minutes to walk past you. Once the game begins they really do not stop playing the entire game unless Allen has the ball. The visiting team must try to call out plays over 18,000 screaming fans and also the playing of an 800-person band. It is really something incredible to hear.
Also adding to the atmosphere would be the 75' x 45' HD Daktronics video board. Again, some NCAA football stadiums would kill to have video equipment such as this. On the home side of the stadium underneath the upper deck, HD TV's are also hung on the walls so that you do not miss any of the action while up grabbing something to eat or while visiting the restroom. A state of the art sound system is also in place that lends to the atmosphere with the typical stadium soundtrack during pre-game and timeouts. Between the in-game highlights, fan prompts, sponsor promotions and graphics package, this gives Eagle Stadium a very professional feel.
Whether it be the amount of fans in the stadium or the thousands that tailgate outside the stadium every Friday night it is easy to forget that you are visiting a high school and not a college football night game. If you plan to tailgate however, just please remember that you are indeed at a high school game and that no alcohol is allowed on campus.
There are quite a few NCAA stadiums that would envy the Allen Eagles and their neighborhood is no exception. Sitting in the quickly growing Dallas suburb of Allen, Eagle Stadium is within a mile of hundreds of restaurants, hotels and shopping centers. If tailgating before the game isn't your thing, then you have plenty of options to choose from to lead up to kickoff. Just northwest of the stadium sits 'The Village in Allen' which is home to BJ's Brewhouse, Rudy's Country BBQ, Pluckers Wing Pub, Uncle Julio's Mexican Grill, Cheddar's and West Coast cult icon burger joint In-N-Out Burger. Also in the Village is a Cabela's Outfitters, Best Buy, Target, Home Goods and Toys "R" Us in case the family needs to go shopping to kill some time.
If you need more entertainment Top Golf also sits next to The Village in Allen and is great way to kill several hours with fans of all ages.
This one is pretty simple. Any high school that sells 18,000 tickets a night has a pretty rabid fan base. The Alumni are very knowledgeable and seem to be made up of past players, wealthy businessmen and students that just still love their Eagles.
The only negative to the fan base is the current student section. Sure, kids these days have short attention spans but it seemed like only the junior and senior crowd was really hanging on to every play. The underclassmen never saw one play of the game and used it just as a social hour in the end zone bleachers. This was very apparent during the national anthem as none of them even realized that the flag was being presented or the anthem was being played by an 800 person marching band of their peers. The underclassmen never stood up, removed their caps or even stopped talking. It was quite disheartening to see but since no parents were sitting in the student section their respect level was not being attended too.
The city of Allen sits directly in-between Plano and McKinney, Texas which is about 20 miles north of downtown Dallas, along Highway 75 (Sam Johnson Highway). During certain times of the day 75 can become a parking lot, especially with ongoing construction. However, for non-rush hour times Eagle Stadium is a breeze to find and get in and out of.
Eagle Stadium is accessible from both Exchange Boulevard and the Greenville Avenue entrances. Fans should exit Hwy. 75 at exit 37 and travel east for about a quarter of a mile. Parking is free and paved parking lots surround Eagle Stadium and the campus of Allen High School.
With everything described above one would probably guess that tickets to an Eagles game would be quite pricey. However, other than the season tickets on the home sideline of both the upper and lower decks, all tickets are general admission and only cost $8. Tickets can be tough to get for rivalry games so arriving early to get tickets is advised. The box office windows accept cash and credit cards but ATM's are found as well just in case.
While Eagle Stadium is impressive as it gets in terms of high school stadiums, what is equally impressive is the Allen ISD Activity Center located in the south end zone of the stadium. The activity center is an indoor practice facility for the football team and also houses a state of the art weight room, locker rooms, coaches' offices and the front office for the athletics department. There are a lot of NCAA football teams that would kill to have a facility like Eagle Stadium.
Another bonus point goes to the Allen High Hall of Honor plaques outside of Eagle Stadium. It is very evident that Allen takes its athletics seriously with a wide range of school and state athletic Hall of Fame players listed. Allen has already built more walls outside the stadium in hopes of filling all of those spaces with future students names.
To say that this stadium is a 'MUST-SEE' would really still be understating it. Nothing else compares in terms of high school sports and very few college stadiums can hold a candle to Eagle Stadium. If you didn't have this on your sports bucket list, then you should be penciling it right now.
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190 E Stacy Rd #3300
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