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Designing the World’s Most Expensive High School Football Stadium

The Mike Johnston Field at Legacy Stadium was unveiled in Katy, west of Houston.

KATY, Texas – (By Michelle Leigh Smith) – In the spirit of `Go big or go home,’ the Katy community stood tall as they had the first look at the new $72 million Legacy Stadium, reportedly the most expensive high school stadium ever built.

One of the first clues that you’ve entered an exceptional venue is architect HKS, Inc.’s Way-Finding Graphics Systems. The signs are not institutional and help reinforce a special sense of place, as well as providing sponsorship opportunities. Look for the Heritage Hall at the Home Entry to commemorate past KISD legends.

The upper stands mezzanine graces the top of the upper bowl, at porch level, just below press box level, providing elevator access for senior patrons to upper stands. The mezzanine also serves as a judging platform for band competitions. “It provides sense of transparency when looking “through” the home stands from across the field,” says Mark Vander Voort, Principal and Senior Vice President of HKS.

One of the most distinctive features of the project are the perforated metal screen walls. “This screen enclosure protects the concourse areas from the late afternoon western sun, and from inclement weather at other times,” says Vander Voort.

“When looking through the screen from inside the concourse, there is a beautiful view of clouds and sky beyond the structure and overlaps of the screen elements. When looking from outside, the screen reads as a series of overlapping planes that create a very distinguishing façade. At night, the screens are illuminated with colored LED lighting that is dynamically adjustable. The screens can “glow” with the colors of the Home Team. KISD has eight high schools and they must be honored individually and equivalently. This aspect of the stadium gives new meaning to ‘Friday Night Lights’.”

The new stadium is about 30 miles west of downtown Houston and west of the Grand Parkway.

Designed by Dallas-based HKS Inc. with Fort Worth-based VLK Architects as associate architect —celebrates this spirit of community in an inspiring architectural form representing a new era in high performance venues in Texas.

One of the biggest challenges was the open concourse patron access.

“In lieu of the concourse being a full story above surrounding grade, the stadium is actually recessed into the ground, and the surrounding parking, drive, and sidewalk areas were raised on imported fill to provide easy pedestrian flow into the main entrances,” says Vander Voort. “In spite of major difficulties presented by the logistics of this option, it improved the patron experience, and also generated huge site development savings over other alternatives.”

There is also a land bridge that connects the pre-existing Rhodes Stadium and the new Legacy Stadium. “In the overall combined site plan for the two stadiums, they were separated by a wide canal, or drainage easement,” he says. “The design team worked with the County to create a “Land Bridge across the easement, thereby connecting both facilities for improved services, access, and safety. The land bridge is park-like in nature and provides a plaza area for community events like art fairs, carnivals, bazaars, and other outdoor events.”

A particularly welcome aspect of the new event space is the state of the art traffic management. “Even though the overall site is well-situated relative to traffic access and egress, many offsite infrastructure and street improvements were required to assure proper flow,” says Vander Voort. “On-site, there is a separate service loop for both stadiums, which provides access for team busses, service and emergency vehicles, VIP access, etc. Also, the on-site parking areas are configured to fill and disperse quickly, to facilitate multiple events on the same day.”

Other features include:

LED Sports Lighting – appropriate lighting on the field of play for video, and much more energy efficient than conventional.

Distributed Sound Systems (in lieu of large directional speakers), to provide a more pleasant and controlled acoustical setting.

Band Plaza – for Band mobilization and field access at the north end of the stadium – opposite fieldhouse). Two tunnels allow one band to enter the playfield while another is exiting. Complete with dedicated restrooms for band members so they don’t have to go all the way up into the stands to use the restroom.

Parent Drop-Off Lane – located safely between both stadiums where parents can drop off and pick up their children without entering the main parking lot areas.

Adjustable Number of Concession “Points of Sale” – for best service, and to mitigate long waits in line.

Automated Parking Lot Lighting and Video Observation Capability

Turf – State of the art infilled turf

Fully Digital Scoreboard and Student-Managed Live-Action-Media-Broadcast-System (LAMBS).

After nearly two years of construction, Katy ISD welcomed parents, students, and community members to Mike Johnston Field at Legacy Stadium on Thursday. Special performances by eight high school bands and choir directors resonated across the field where the community came together to take part in a historical moment, not just for Katy ISD, but for all of Katy.

The site is master-planned as a comprehensive, park-like community venue. The name, Legacy Stadium, was announced by a community led naming committee who selected the name as a nod to the District’s “history of excellence and tradition.”

A key architectural element – a north end zone berm – from the beloved Rhodes Stadium was incorporated into the Legacy Stadium. Carrying on a nostalgic tradition, families will be able to bring a blanket to sit and enjoy sports and other activities.

A key architectural element from the beloved Rhodes Stadium was incorporated into the Legacy Stadium. Similar to Rhodes, Legacy Stadium features a north end zone berm. Carrying on a nostalgic tradition, families will be able to bring a blanket to sit and enjoy sports and other activities.

A versatile plaza and green space, located between the two stadiums, accommodates art fairs, exhibits and a variety of outdoor gatherings

Legacy Stadium was approved by voters as part of the 2014 bond to provide Katy ISD students and its community with a state of the art multipurpose second stadium. The stadium will benefit the 77,000+ students currently enrolled in the District, as well as their families and other residents. It was part of a zero tax rate increase bond and will serve as an athletic and fine arts venue for Katy ISD schools.

  • This hometown stadium is designed to host events 365 days per year, whether it’s a football game, soccer tournament, band competition or other community activities.
  • The new stadium is a distinctive high school venue that focuses on creating a more immersive experience. Unlike typical sports and entertainment venues, the upper seating bowl is elevated and positioned closer to the playing field. For fans, athletes and performers alike, it conveys a sense of intimacy and heightened experience.
  • An open concourse, designed into the bowl, allows patrons to see the field even when visiting the concession stands or other amenities.
  • A 50-foot-tall, 200-foot-long perforated metal screen protects patrons from the western sun and provides shelter during inclement weather. It can also be illuminated with color LED lighting to celebrate the home team.
  • Above the home stands is a signature press box with a unique tapered roof form that crowns the entire complex. A distinctive one-story press box is well equipped to provide space for coaches, press and operations representatives. The venue also offers two hospitality suites with exceptional views of the field and the city beyond.
  • A state-of-the-art scoreboard, on the north end of the field, measures 60 feet by 25 feet.
  • The fieldhouse — located at the south end zone — includes multipurpose space that overlooks the field and serves as a venue within a venue. The patio deck, which includes fixed seating, can be configured for many district and community occasions.

Look for  soccer, marching band contests, concerts, youth football games, lacrosse, rugby, college football summer camps, parent group meetings, banquets, movie nights, and other community celebrations set at the stadium. And on Friday nights in the fall – look for some of the best high school football ever played.

Aug. 19, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017

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