Ross Perot’s Fundamental Question Answered in Texas

As this ESPN.com article recalls, Ross Perot once asked: “Do we want our kids to win on Friday night on the football field or do we want them to win all through their lives?” Although it can be a false dichotomy if athletics and sports fandom are pursued moderately, this was a fundamental question to ask given how much money so many school districts lavish on sports while pinching pennies (and time) on the important things.

Well, apparently his question has been answered in Allen, Texas and…surprise, surprise…football won again down in the Lone Star State (the star, I imagine, stands for the 1 school still focused on the 3 R’s – and no, I don’t mean running, receiving, and returning kicks).  Behold, the $60 million high school stadium:

For the sake of comparison, Fenway Park cost $650,000 to build in 1912.  This is only about $15 million today!  The Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas was built in 1930 for the whopping price of $328,000.  In today’s dollars, that is a mere $4.5 million.  Of course, those aren’t the replacement costs for the identical structures.

So get this — The University of North Carolina-Charlotte is currently constructing a new football stadium.  Cost?  $15 million less than Allen’s!

Is it any wonder that state and local budgets are going bust and many of our children lag behind even developing countries on standardized tests?

3 thoughts on “Ross Perot’s Fundamental Question Answered in Texas

  1. I’m an Easterner, or more accurately a Northeasterner, which means the whole “Friday Night Lights” high school football obsession is outside my experience. I don’t get the obession with sport in general whether it be youth, high school, college, or pro. To say this school system has their priorities wrong is to state the obvious.

    Massachusetts is home to one of the most successful professional football franchises of the past 15 years, as measured by wins and losses and revenue generated. When the owner, Robert Kraft, threatened to leave the State unless we contributed a new stadium for his team we said, “Bon Voyage!”. He went to Connecticut because they offered to build him the stadium he wanted. But for some reason he decided MA was where he truly wanted to be, and so he built the stadium himself, with his own money, and has made a killing from it ever since. The revenue has come from the success of the team, the draw of the new stadium, and the various retail outlets he has built around the stadium (which make it a destination whether football is being played or not).

  2. This has very little to do with football and everything to do the “Alice in Wonderlanesque” school finance system in Texas.

    Schools in Texas are funded exclusively through local property taxes. But school finance law forces districts to tax their residents at the maximum legal tax rate. After taxing at the maximum rate, if a very property rich district, like Allen ISD, finds itself funded at above a certain baseline dollar amount per student, then that district must send that excess revenue, to the state, where the funds are reallocated to property poor districts who, also taxing at the maximum rate, have revenues less than the amount established as the a fore mentioned baseline per student.

    Constituents/voters in property rich districts like Allen ISD resent being taxed at the maximum rate and then having their tax dollars sent away to fund poor districts in other parts of the state.

    But there is a way around it. Districts are allowed to keep the excess revenue as long as it is being used to service bond debt. Thus rich districts are incentivised to issue bonds and build these types of structures and keep the tax money in the local district.

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