Texas is renowned for many things– cowboys, ranches, being overall enormous– but maybe nothing moreso than taking high school football very, very seriously. Forget bleachers and small town stands, Texas erects massive stadiums with capacities well into the 10,000s. While many of the largest stadiums reside in Houston, the DFW Metroplex has some of the most expensive and impressive.
Joy & Ralph Ellis Stadium (Irving)
The focal point of this stadium is the end zone sign, pictured above. The facility seats over 11,000, which is needed in the sixth-largest city in the DFW Metro. The stadium is named after a local couple, Joy and Ralph Ellis, who have been generous donors for over 40 years to the school.
Mesquite Memorial Stadium (Mesquite)
Quick– what’s the first thing you noticed about this one? I, too, noticed the stacked structure and individual season ticket holder seats. But the gigantic “War of the Worlds”-esque radio tower in the end zone stands 510 feet tall (51 stories)– that’s taller than the Great Pyramid. The other colossal metric about this stadium: it seats 19,400, making it the largest high school-only stadium in the United States.
Mesquite Memorial Stadium is so big that it has a higher capacity than Charlotte & UMass, ranks 28th among FCS venues, and fourth among D2.
E. H. Hanby Stadium (Mesquite)
The press box, which was renovated in 2002, still stands as one of the more impressive ones. It can seat 50 scouts, media, and press members along with what appear to be a half dozen suites. It also marks 1,350 premium chairback seats out of the 12,000 total seats in the stadium. Keep in mind: this is the second stadium in Mesquite, TX.
John Clark Stadium (Plano)
This stadium seats 14,224, making it the 19th largest stadium in Texas. It also has a unique style to the press box and has a sunken playing surface akin to large Power 5 college venues. The concourse looks more like what you’d find at a C-USA school, rather than a couple concession stands dotted around a track like in other states.
Ron Poe Stadium (McKinney)
This one’s worth noting for a couple reasons. Number one, it’s the second stadium in McKinney. Number two, it’s got a press box fit for a stadium of 30,000+, but seats 7,000 (for reference, most top-division stadiums in moderately populated areas are built between 4,500-5,000).
Memorial Stadium (Frisco)
As far as Texas-sized stadiums go, Frisco Memorial Stadium reminds me most of a small town stadium. The press box is grand and the stadium is surrounded by pines and tall cedar trees, with a huge dropoff to the east that gives an amazing view. The “small town” feel is erased when you realize that Memorial Stadium still seats over 10,000. This stadium is home to several schools, least most Frisco High, who plays their home games at Toyota Stadium, the Star (Cowboys practice facility) and here.
McKinney ISD Stadium (McKinney)
We’re jumping from impressive to flat out ridiculous. McKinney ISD Stadium came in at $69.9 million (add on another $10 million in fixing foundational cracks). This 12,000-seat stadium ranks fourth in most expensive high school venues in the state and has it’s own athletic complex (pictured first) that’s akin to a college recruiting center. There’s nothing about this venue that screams “high school.”
Children’s Health Stadium (Prosper)
With a price tag of $53 million, this is hardly the most expensive high school stadium in Texas, but it might be the most ridiculous. Children’s Health Stadium is the latest facility in the growing arms race in Texas; featuring state-of-the-art medical equipment (thanks to the stadium name sponsor) and the largest high school video board in Texas (53’x67′). Prosper averages $510,000 per home (hence the name) and features dozens of million-dollar mansions.
Tip: Take a drive on TX1461 east of the stadium for homes that truly belong in Beverley Hills.