-- The image of families rambling up to an outdoor football field with a few bleachers under the lights for a Friday night high school football game is no more in at least one Texas school district.
The stadium, called Ford Center at The Star, is described on its website as a “a state-of-the-art, 510,000 square foot indoor athletic facility” that features three practice fields, luxury suites and dedicated locker rooms, a training area, coaches’ office and press area for the high school teams.
The stadium also boasts the largest exterior video board in all of high school sports, at 2,270 square feet.
“Initially there was just that wow factor, just to play in an indoor stadium with a big Jumbotron screen,” said Rayburn, whose team made it to the state championship finals last season. “There were a little bit more pregame jitters than normal with that type of atmosphere.”
The eight district high schools will rotate playing their home games at Ford Center this season, meaning each team will play three to five games in the one-of-a-kind environment.
Heritage High School football coach Che Hendrix, whose team faced off against Lone Star Saturday, described the stadium as having the same atmosphere as a college football game. The games Saturday were broadcast on ESPNU.
“The stands were full. The stadium was extremely loud,” Hendrix told ABC News. “It was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these kids to play in.”
Ford Center will also be used for other sports and events in connection with the Frisco Independent School District throughout the year.
Hendrix said the 50 students on his football team are ready to get back on the field again now that they know what to expect playing in an indoor stadium of that size.
“I would say they were more excited than nervous,” he said of Saturday’s game. “The energy level was sky-high.”