Texas voters may be having second thoughts about building $60 million high school football stadiums, but that isn’t stopping everyone in the state from dreaming big about youth sports venues. Take, for example, Fort Worth city councilmember Cary Moon, who is tired of his friends having to drive 50 miles to Frisco to watch their kids play youth soccer, and wants to build them a $150 million soccer stadium to save them the trip:
“As a parent, I see many of my friends travel to Frisco, out of Fort Worth, for soccer tournaments,” said Moon, who has represented District 4 since 2015.
So the council member is spearheading a plan to build a $150 million, 8,000-seat stadium in north Fort Worth. On Monday, he presented his idea to Keller ISD’s school board…
Moon, a KISD parent, said Keller’s fields are outdated and the project would bring a much-needed upgrade to the district’s facilities.
Yes, I’m sure that would be an upgrade, considering that $150 million is more than MLS stadiums like those in Houston, Philadelphia, and Salt Lake City cost to build. It’s almost as much as the 131 million euros ($155 million) that S.C. Freiburg, a top German soccer club, is spending to build a new 34,700-seat stadium.
To be fair, Moon’s proposed project wouldn’t be just a soccer stadium, but also include 16 additional soccer pitches, retail, and for some reason a performing arts theater, because everyone loves to top off a kids’ soccer tournament with a trip to a dance performance or maybe a kiln room. He says it’s modeled on Frisco’s The Star, which is a 12,000-seat indoor stadium for Dallas Cowboys practices, high school football, and failed pro lacrosse and arena football teams. Frisco spent $115 million in 2013 to build The Star, paid for via tax-increment financing (aka kicking back area property taxes to the developer), and apparently ever since then Moon has been fuming that Fort Worth doesn’t have one of those things. (He also cites a 2019 Fort Worth Sports Authority study that claimed $12-16 million a year in added economic activity from a soccer complex, which is a good time for a reminder that economic activity is a garbage stat.)
Reading between the lines of the Dallas Morning News report, Moon faces an uphill battle: He’d need the approval of both the city and the school district, and Keller school district superintendent Rick Westfall told the News via email, “Nothing was approved by Keller ISD on Monday, but we look forward to staying in contact with Councilman Moon and learning more regarding the progress of the project,” which sounds an awful lot like Thank you for your application, we’ll be in touch. Moon also says he would need to find a private developer for the rest of his dream project and, oh yes, a pro soccer team of some kind, which actually could be the easiest part because you can just find soccer franchises at the bottom of Crackerjack boxes these days. At least trying to lure a pro soccer team is a well established dumb reason to build a stadium; if cities are really going to start competing to steal each other’s youth soccer matches, this website is going to need a bigger boat.