While high school football teams across North Texas get set to kick off a new season Friday night, one district is waiting to play until Saturday morning.
Frisco is opening a new stadium called The Star. They are celebrating by having an all-day football marathon.
Imagine being a 16-year-old high school football player, and having the chance to share the same field as your favorite professional team. It’s a reality for Independence high school senior lineman Jason Moore.
“I’ve been a Cowboys fan since I was born,” Moore said. “I like the field; it feels like an NFL arena. I’ve been to AT&T Stadium and it feels similar to it. Locker rooms are magnificent; it’s a big step up from the places we were at before.”
Independence High School will be one of the first two teams to play in The Star. It’s the new training facility and headquarters for the Dallas Cowboys – and it’s also the new home for Frisco’s eight football teams.
It’s not your normal high school stadium; it’s indoors and it seats 12,000 fans.
“I’ve never played in a dome before or anything,” senior quarterback Kyle Saddler said. “It’s crazy. I can’t compare it to anything.”
The $260 million facility is a joint project with the city of Frisco and the school district, along with the Cowboys.
The city paid $60 million and the district is paying $30 million. The Cowboys will pick up the rest of the bill.
It’s the first time a National Football League team has agreed to share a practice facility with a public school district.
Kyle Story is head football coach at Independence, and he’s been warning players not to look around the massive stadium and get distracted.
“We’ll play four home games at The Star,” Story said. “It’s an unbelievable facility, and they probably don’t realize how blessed they are to be a student athlete here in Frisco ISD.”
The significance isn’t lost on Jason Moore, though.
“We get to go out there and do something nobody’s ever done before,” he said. “The Star’s going to be up for a while. To be able to grow older and have kids, and be like: ‘I was one of the first people to play in that thing.’ That’s just amazing.”
As part of Saturday’s quadruple-header, Nike is giving the Frisco team uniforms special treatment. Each school will sport a “color rush” uniform – wearing the same color head to toe. It’s something Nike does for its NFL teams.
Tickets to Saturday’s extravaganza have been sold out for weeks.
Across North Texas, school districts have been building more expensive football stadiums. Allen spent $60 million on theirs, and McKinney voters just approved a new stadium that will cost about $70 million.
With this race to see who can build the biggest and baddest stadium around, critics say too much is being spent on high school sports.
Coach Story says football players are not the only ones who benefit.
“People in Texas understand the importance of extracurricular activities,” he said. “It’s not just the football team: your band, drill team, cheerleaders. There’s so many other students that get to be involved on a varsity football game, and that whole experience is important.”
In Frisco, that experience will last over 12 hours with games from morning until late at night.