By George Slaughter
Legacy Stadium, the Katy Independent School District’s new football stadium that opened for tours Thursday, meets the cliché that Texans expect everything to be bigger and better.
It’s certainly bigger, with a 12,000-person seating capacity compared to the 9,768-person seating capacity of Rhodes Stadium.
Legacy Stadium sits on a 43-acre lot at 5175 Franz Road, which is just north of Rhodes Stadium, at 1733 Katyland Drive.
With two stadiums essentially on the same lot, concerns have understandably been raised about how parking issues would be addressed on nights when both stadiums are being used for games. For those nights, football schedules were choreographed so the games would have different kickoff times.
“We’ve got tons of parking,” KISD Superintendent Dr. Lance Hindt said. “We’ve got two facilities. We’ll have separate start and stop times. We’ve been working hard to make sure we can get people in and out and we don’t anticipate any problems.”
Legacy Stadium is also more up-to-date. It has two 2,600-square-foot locker rooms that can be split into four locker rooms as needed. The stadium has four concessions stands, two on the west (home team) and two on the east (visiting team) side.
The stadium features a unique lighting scheme in which perforated metal screens on the sides of the stadium will be lit in appropriate school colors. For example, if the Mayde Creek Rams were to play the Cinco Ranch Cougars, the Mayde Creek side of the stadium would be lit in green, and the Cinco Ranch side would be lit in maroon.
At Thursday’s opening, two concessions stands were open with crews preparing food for the guests. Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, and soft drinks are among the stadium fare. The chicken sandwiches are the most expensive item at $5 each.
The stadium has two large capacity male and female restrooms on each side.
Corporate donors are a part of big-time sports today, and Legacy Stadium is no exception to the trend. Corporate advertising can be seen around the stadium. Both Legacy and Rhodes stadiums, in turn, sit on what has been named the Academy Sports + Outdoors Student Activities Complex.
Academy paid the district $2.5 million for the naming rights, which went into effect July 1 and lasts for 10 years.
Katy Independent School District Department of Athletics offices were moved to the stadium fieldhouse during the early stages of the stadium construction. The fieldhouse sits on the south side of Legacy Stadium and has a large meeting room that can be used for banquets and similar events.
The room has divider walls and can be split into three rooms as needed.
A “legacy hallway” has replicas of the 21 state title trophies won by Katy ISD teams. The hallway also has commemorative t-shirts and team photos of each of these champion teams, the first of which was the 1959 Katy football team and the most recent of which was the 2017 Morton Ranch girls wrestling team.
On the north end of the stadium is a 60’ x 25’ scoreboard that permits instant replay.
Even though Legacy Stadium is the newer and larger venue, the stadiums both have berm seating for overflow crowds. They also have a parent drop-off point where students can be dropped off and picked up by families who cannot attend the games.
The facility, which came in at about $75 million, has drawn attention from both in and out of Texas. Asked what he would tell those from out of state who don’t understand Texas football and questioned the need for such a facility, Hindt smiled and said, “Tell ‘em to jump in their car, get on a plane, come on down here, do a little tailgating, and experience a Friday night in Texas. It’s a way of life.”
Hindt said he was extremely excited about the new facility, but said what was important is what the students felt about it.
“We opened our doors yesterday (Wednesday) to 77,000 students,” he said. “There’s a buzz about it. Those high schoolers can’t wait to get out here.”
The Legacy Stadium field was named for Mike Johnston, who coached Katy High School football from 1982-2003. On his watch, the Tigers won 13 district titles, and made five state title game appearances, winning three.
Even though football can be expected to be the big draw in a community that loves the sport as Katy does, Legacy Stadium will have other uses. Banquets, college football summer camps, concerts, lacrosse matches, marching band competitions, parent group meetings and soccer games are all expected to take place at the stadium.
What one sees on the field, however, is only part of the story. The district has other programs, such as LAMBS (for Live Action Media Broadcast System), where students gain experience in filming events. Debbie Decker, the district’s executive director for athletics, said such programs will be expanded now that Legacy Stadium has been opened.
“It’s a big classroom for us,” Decker said.
The stadium was designed by HKS Inc. of Dallas and VLK Architects of Fort Worth.
In addition to the usual speeches and presentations, Thursday’s stadium dedication ceremony featured performances from the bands, cheerleaders and dance teams from the eight Katy ISD high schools with football teams—Cinco Ranch, Katy, Mayde Creek, Morton Ranch, Paetow, Seven Lakes, Taylor, and Tompkins. It should be noted, though, that Paetow High School opened this semester, and will field its first varsity football team next season.
Foster will face Taylor at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, August 31, in the first game at Legacy Stadium. For information about purchasing tickets, see the district web site.
Hindt invited people to come to the games.
“You’ll see the true Texas experience,” he said.
To see the KISD high school football schedules, click here.