(ALLEN, Texas) — The Allen, Texas, High School football team got their new $60 million football stadium off to a good start Friday night, shutting out the state champion.
“It was so exciting to play in front of this crowd tonight,” running back Jeff Harris told the Star-Telegram. “We were a little nervous coming out, but you settle down and get the butterflies out. We got a lot of extra energy from the fans. They helped a lot.”
At the end of the game, the stadium’s video score board read: Allen, 24. Southlake Carroll, 0.
The stadium, which was built as part of a voter-approved $119 million bond package that passed in 2009, boasts some major league amenities, including artificial turf, a multi-level press box, a weight room, a wrestling room and seats for 18,000 people.
Including the standing room crowd, there were 21,000 people at the Friday night’s game.
While students and their parents seem to be thrilled with it, some Texans are less impressed.
“It’s lamentable that people want to do this with their own money and the money of their community,” said Tom Palaima, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, and a former representative of the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, a faculty organization that monitors sports expenditures on college campuses.
“Young men and women are now understanding at the age of 8, 9, and 10 that their way to get into a good college or university is by participating in sports and not putting a focus on academics,” he said.
Allen High principal Steve Payne disagreed.
“We are an exemplary high school,” he told ABC News. “I think our first class facilities tell everybody that we have first class academics and first class kids. Without them, we wouldn’t have those first class facilities.”
U.S. News and World Report ranked the 5,700-student school 99th out of 1,842 schools in the state of Texas, and 1,219th out of 21,776 schools nationwide. Eighty-five percent of students go on to college, said Payne.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio