ALLEN, Texas -- A $60 million Texas high school stadium that got national attention for its grandeur and price tag will be shut down indefinitely 18 months after its opening, school district officials said Thursday.
Eagle Stadium in the Dallas suburb of Allen will be closed until at least June for an examination of "extensive cracking" in the concrete of the stadium's concourse, the district said in a statement Thursday. The closure will likely affect home games at the stadium this fall, the district said.
Ben Pogue of Pogue Construction, which built the stadium, told reporters that the cracks range from a quarter-inch to three-quarters of an inch wide.
"There are concerns surrounding the stadium, but we have been -- for a long time -- part of the solution," Pogue said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I'm optimistic that we're going to have a quick resolve to this that will not affect the football season that's coming up."
Built in 2012 as part of a $120 million bond issue, Eagle Stadium seats 18,000 people and sports a 38-foot-wide video board. Eagle Stadium's opening was a moment of triumph for the community of Allen, a fast-growing Dallas suburb that has become home to a high school football powerhouse. The Eagles won the Class 5A Division I state championship last year.
District officials defended the cost -- an eye-popping figure even in football-mad Texas, home to hundreds of schools playing under the "Friday Night Lights" -- by calling the stadium an investment for generations of future Eagles fans and a much-needed upgrade from the district's previous 35-year-old field.
They planned to host state playoff games and other events at Eagle Stadium. Instead, the district's graduation ceremonies and all other events are now on hold indefinitely.
"This is a significant investment for our community. We are very disappointed and upset that these problems have arisen," interim superintendent Beth Nicholas said. "It is unacceptable. Our students, families, and the entire community have always supported the district and our commitment to them is to make sure this issue is appropriately resolved."
Officials said an engineering firm has completed about 10 percent of its review of the stadium. It is expected to recommend "appropriate" repairs, the statement said.
"Our No. 1 priority must always be the safety of our students, staff and community," Louise Master, Allen's ISD board president, said in a release. "We do not have information at this point that confirms any areas outside of the concourse could be affected, but the most prudent thing to do, to absolutely assure the safety of students, staff and the community, is to keep the facility closed during this review."
PBK Architects, the Texas firm that designed the stadium, did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.