The new, $69.9 million McKinney ISD Stadium might have a few cosmetic cracks, but its opening night Thursday had few flaws.
McKinney North beat McKinney 31-13 in a spirited crosstown rivalry game. The Bulldogs were propelled by two big plays in the second half: an 83-yard punt return by Hunter Chae and a 38-yard jump pass from QB Cameron Constantine to Noah Ford.
“It’s a good night,” said McKinney ISD Board President Curtis Rippee. “It was fun, fun, fun.”
Many Bulldog fans proudly wore orange shirts with a line drawing of the stadium on the back, declaring the facility as “This is the Dawg House.” And in the first game, it was.
The Lions scored first on a nine-yard run by Kelvin Thomas, but North answered with four consecutive scores, one in each quarter. On a school night, the stadium started to empty when Constantine scampered four yards for a TD on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Bulldogs a 24-7 lead.
Up until that point, the crowd had been rowdy since the middle of the afternoon, when a battalion from the U.S. Army showed up. The soldiers set up a tower for wall climbing, tailgating bean bag games, a football toss station and a tent for the band they brought with them.
Fans were showing up in droves two hours for the 7 p.m. start, with a crowd of 10 deep crowding the gates before they opened up at 6 p.m. McKinney North cheerleaders and spirit squads entertained the waiting fans with impromptu dances to the music of the Army band.
The facility’s Activity Center, located in the south end zone, was full before the game as VIPS, sponsors and other special guests enjoyed a buffet dinner. Two big screens looped a video promoting the stadium, including time-elapsed footage that compacted two years of construction into about 20 seconds.
The pregame toss featured not only the captains from both teams, but also McKinney ISD Superintendent Rick McDaniel and McKinney Mayor George Fuller.
The biggest drawback might have been that too many people came out for the party as the 12,000-seat stadium was almost full. Traffic was horrible.
Much has been made about cracks in the concrete, which should be expected when a school district spends $69.9 million on a facility. Two studies have concluded that the stadium is safe.
Thursday night, McKinney ISD Stadium was a fun place to be.