Texas Wesleyan is gearing up to play football next year and needs a new football stadium. The Fort Worth ISD could use a new stadium, too. Can the two find a way to play ball? Paul Moseley pmoseley@star-telegram.com
Texas Wesleyan is gearing up to play football next year and needs a new football stadium. The Fort Worth ISD could use a new stadium, too. Can the two find a way to play ball? Paul Moseley pmoseley@star-telegram.com

High School Football

New FWISD stadium with Wesleyan is worth pursuing

By John Henry

Special to the Star-Telegram

September 21, 2016 06:08 PM

UPDATED September 21, 2016 11:14 PM

Each year, the Fort Worth school district deals with a well-documented logistical predicament in trying to squeeze in its schools’ games at the district’s three football facilities.

The crisis was further heightened this year with the inaugural varsity seasons of two additional high schools — Benbrook and the Young Men’s Leadership Academy.

To make it work, school district teams will play 28 Thursday games, 35 Friday games and 14 Saturday games across the 11-week regular season. Put another way, if nine games across the three school district venues — one game each on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Farrington Field, Clark Stadium, and Scarborough-Handley Field — is considered the ideal weekly maximum, then an 11-week regular season has a maximum of 99 possible slots for home football games.

This season the 15 Fort Worth school district teams are using 77 of those possible 99 slots.

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Fort Worth school district teams will play 28 Thursday games, 35 Friday games and 14 Saturday games across the 11-week regular season for football this fall.

Said school district officials and coaches last month:

“We could always deal with an additional football venue or two.”

“We could really use another stadium.”

“We’re close to being maxed out.”

Despite correctly identifying the problem, a well-formed consensus has emerged that nothing will happen anytime soon to fix it. There are plenty of good reasons for believing that, namely history, and the fiscal challenges the big, urban school districts face.

But there is a good fix available and available sooner rather than later.

It is well known that Texas Wesleyan envisions building a stadium on campus to house its burgeoning football program.

It’s as known that the university is looking for partners to construct a 3,000-5,000 seat facility.

Voilapresto! Rev the bands for Friday night.

And we’re not talking about the type of financial, jaw-dropping commitment the Frisco school district made to help build The Ford Center on the grounds of the Dallas Cowboys’ new headquarters and development. That was a $30 million investment spread over 25 years.

There is likely little political capital left available in Fort Worth to raise anywhere close to that amount through a bond election anyway.

The school district should act with speed on this golden opportunity. It’s good for the student.

But this proposed FWISD-TWU partnership would in all likelihood not require a finger be raised at the ballot box. Rather, more like a long-term lease agreement between the school district and Texas Wesleyan for its schools to use the facility for football and soccer.

The city is said to be receptive to to do its part to ensure the needed infrastructure is available for construction. City officials view the proposed stadium as an economic driver for that part of town, something that will keep students, who would otherwise not stay on campus for the weekend, on Rosedale spending money at the various businesses popping up along the boulevard.

The school district should act with speed on this golden opportunity. It’s good for the student.

Thursday night games are difficult on the students and faculty. A common thread among teachers is that many Friday school days are hampered, if not wasted altogether, because students, both athlete and general population, stay out too late on Thursday nights for the game.

But aside from that, high school games not on Friday lose the luster of the culture of the state’s Friday night lights.

That’s important because it’s part of the school culture … a part of the school day. Students are more likely to attend games on Friday than a school night or a Saturday in which transportation or other family or work plans might conflict.

It’s not a minor distinction, but rather vital to the well-roundedness of the student experience.

Study after study illustrates the critical role that social contact plays in cognitive formation, particularly on “executive function.” Good sociability makes for well-adapted adults who know how to craft relationships, communicate and empathize.

They are also adults who are generally happy.

School officials are barely able to make scheduling work in Fort Worth.

They should jump at the chance to make this deal with Wesleyan work.

Football is back at Texas Wesleyan University

Gone since 1941, football is back at TWU with games starting in 2017. The Rams held their first practice at the school Tuesday.

pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Player of the Week

Keller Central running back Zion Purvis is the dfwVarsity.com football offensive Player of the Week for Week 4, and Fort Worth North Side linebacker Rafael Carbajal is the defensive Player of the Week.

A total of 30,947 votes were cast.

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Video by Jared L. Christopher and Jessica Koscielniak Star-Telegram.com

Reach John Henry at jfhenry1970@gmail.com. Twitter: @John_F_Henry