Frisco ISD is celebrating the grand opening of The Ford Center at The Star, the multi-use events center publicly owned by the City of Frisco and shared with the Dallas Cowboys.
The first-ever event at the facility was FISD's Convocation ceremony held Thursday, August 18. The staff-only celebration kicked off the new school year and allowed employees to explore the District’s new home stadium.
The following day, high school football teams got the chance to check out and practice on the field, the first players of any age to do so.
“This facility is top of the line. It’s unreal that we have the opportunity to play here,” said Frisco High School quarterback Caden Wright. “I’m just a high school player – I don’t know where I’ll go next, but they’re at the top and they’re here playing at the same place.”
Students saw the locker rooms and uniforms designed by Nike in advance of the sold-out, season-opening football extravaganza set for this Saturday, August 27. Custom hologram technology revealed uniforms for players in the same color from head to toe.
“Seeing the #TexasTested locker room was insane and then seeing the hologram with our jerseys – it was great and really neat,” said Logan Jones, defensive lineman for the Lone Star High School football team.
The 12,000-seat indoor athletic facility and events center will host Frisco ISD football and soccer games, as well as graduation ceremonies and other special events. It will also provide students with a number of real-world learning opportunities in fields such as audio/video production, sports marketing and more.
“This is an incredible moment, an incredible day for all of us,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeremy Lyon. “All of the different partners in this project had one thing in common – from whatever vantage point they were coming from – and that was a clarity of vision.
“As a school district, we have a clarity of vision that is all about student success and student opportunity. From the City’s standpoint, it’s a clarity of vision of becoming a community that everybody wants to move to and from the Dallas Cowboys’ standpoint, it’s a clarity of vision of being the best in the world at everything that they do. Every partner stuck to that clarity of vision and executed their piece and executed it beautifully.”
FISD football captains and cheerleaders took part in the official ribbon cutting ceremony for The Ford Center on Sunday, August 21. Representatives from Frisco ISD, the City of Frisco and Dallas Cowboys celebrated their partnership alongside sponsors and other special guests.
“The reality is, the best is here today,” said Frisco Mayor Maher Maso. “Everyone is on the same team – the school district, the City, the Cowboys organization and so many others – working toward making a quality product, something that is being modeled all over the country. It is what happens when you work together toward a common goal.”
FISD is contributing $30 million to the City of Frisco for construction of The Ford Center, or $1.2 million annually for 25 years. The money comes from an existing revenue stream generated by a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ), which was formed in the 1990s in the area around Stonebriar Centre. By law, these funds cannot be used for the maintenance and operations of the school district, such as teacher salaries.
The partnership with the City and Cowboys meant Frisco ISD did not have to build its own third stadium, which was a topic of discussion as part of the development of the 2014 bond program. In addition, the District will not incur ongoing maintenance and operations costs at The Ford Center, resulting in a savings of $250-$300,000 annually.
The City of Frisco is contributing $30 million to the project; the Frisco Economic Development Corporation, $30 million; and the Frisco Community Development Corporation, $25 million.
The Cowboys are responsible for all additional construction costs, estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“When we got together, you inspired us,” Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones told City and District officials at the ribbon cutting. “Like the right kind of player, we couldn’t let you down. We knew you were depending on us and we knew that you weren’t going to let your end up either.”
The project has helped bring several new FISD partners and sponsors to the table, including Nike, Dr Pepper and others, which has resulted in cost savings for the District and created new opportunities and experiences for students.
“It’s the visibility, the interest, the power of sport,” Jones said. “We want to make that something that enriches Frisco and enhances the youth. We want them to know when they walk out on that field and Jason Whitten is just walking off and he winks at them or talks to them about their route, or Tony Romo is looking over at (a player), (looking) at his footwork for him, we want them to know that (each player) puts his on the same way Tony Romo does and he can be that if he keeps working and tries, that’s the magic of what we have done here.”
The Ford Center and world headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys anchor a 91-acre, mixed-use development at the northwest corner of Warren Parkway and the Dallas North Tollway. The area, known as The Star in Frisco, also includes a hotel, sports medicine facility and office, lifestyle, retail and restaurant space.
The estimated economic impact over the next 30 years is $23.4 billion. Employment impact is estimated at 4,500 new jobs at full development, with tax revenues of $1.26 billion.
“We are intent to develop unique places in Frisco,” said Frisco Mayor Pro Tem Will Sowell. “With the opening of The Ford Center at The Star, it represents a significant point in Frisco’s transformation from not just a suburb, but to also become a destination.”