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Major Cracks In $60 Million Stadium ‘Not A Black Eye For Allen ISD,’ New Superintendent Says

Allen ISD
Superintendent Lance Hindt says the closure of Allen Eagle Stadium is a black eye for the contractor and architect, not the district.

The $60 million football stadium that opened two years ago to nationwide attention was closed indefinitely in February due to major cracks in the concrete.

Graduation ceremonies are being moved. And the football team is unsure of where it will play in the fall. Superintendent Lance Hindt, who’s been on the job less than two weeks, sat down with KERA on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Hindt first heard about the problems in a call from school district officials the day before they announced Allen Eagle Stadium’s closure.

"It was disappointing"

“It was disappointing,” Hindt says. “I was disappointed, No. 1, that the taxpayers, the board of trustees and the community of Allen had to go through a situation like this.”

Hindt, who came to Allen from Stafford south of Houston, remembers watching TV news reports about the 18,000-seat stadium when it opened two years ago. At the time, he thought it was “a neat opportunity” for the community. He says the recent developments haven’t changed his perception.

“I’ll tell you, this is not a black eye for Allen ISD,” Hindt says. “This is a black eye for the architect and the contractor and I can promise you, they want to make sure it’s done right and that it’s fixed to our expectation.”

A history of cracks

The district first noticed cracks in the concrete in August 2012 when the stadium opened. PBK Architects and Pogue Construction blamed the cracking on a natural occurrence, he says. A year later, more cracks appeared -- and some were larger. That’s when the district hired a company called Nelson Forensics to look into the problem.

“I think that this district handled this appropriately – maybe not as quickly as some would like – but it wasn’t something that was, you know, slid under the rug or put behind a closed door,” Hindt says.

District officials announced in February it was closing the stadium after a preliminary report by Nelson Forensics confirmed there was “pervasive cracking in the concrete of the elevated concourse.”

Construction firm stands by its work

Pogue Construction declined KERA’s request for an interview. In its most recent statement, the company said it stood by its work and services and “long term client and partner Allen ISD.”

“We will continue to work with Allen ISD and the parties involved to give the people of Allen the stadium they deserve,” the statement read, adding that all parties are insured to cover necessary repairs.

The McKinney-based company has a long history of building schools and other facilities, including churches, medical centers and municipal buildings in Collin County and other parts of North Texas. It’s also given money to local education foundations, including in Allen.

According to the professional networking site XING, Pogue has contributed about a million dollars to various education foundations. The company’s been recognized by the Texas Association of Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards for its numerous elementary school projects, according to the site.

“There are lots of groups, not just this contractor, that give back to a community and provide resources – in some cases supplies materials and in some cases monetary resources to not profit organizations that the districts are associated with – and that’s common practice,” Hindt says.

This practice, he adds, doesn’t raise any red flags for him.

“The procurement process was solid,” he says. “There was nothing that would raise an eyebrow in this situation in the employment of the contractor or the architect.”

Hindt says he wants the matter resolved, no matter how long it takes. And he wants the facility that taxpayers voted and paid for.

“We’ll get past this,” Hindt says. “We’ll have a stadium that will be the envy of many school districts. And we’re gonna get this job done right…I can assure them of that.”

A final forensics report is due in June. This year’s graduation ceremony, meanwhile, has been moved to the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.