Katy Football Stadium Now Costs $70 Million Plus

Courtesy Katy ISD

KATY (Covering Katy) – The price tag for America’s most expensive football stadium is now more than $70 million, and the project is still months from being completed in Katy. All of the additional spending was approved by the school board in public sessions with little fanfare in 2015 and 2016 prior to the arrival of current Superintendent Dr. Lance Hindt and before the arrival of school board member George Scott who had been a frequent critic of the stadium’s price tag before being elected.

Voters approved $58 million for the stadium. It is now more than 20 percent over budget, and most of the additional spending is for basic items that were either not factored into the budget or underestimated.

The biggest additional cost received very little attention even though it added $7 million dollars to stadium’s price tag.  It was for drainage, utilities and roadwork, and was approved in September of 2015.

In May of 2015 an additional $795,000 was added to the project to clear and prepare the site, according to documents supplied by the district. The money came from unspent funds from a 2014 bond.

The district also underestimated the cost of road improvements that would be needed before the stadium could open. An additional $1.7 million was added to the project in April of 2016. The funds will also be used for underground conduit work, according to the district. The board approved using unspent money from the 2010 bond to pay the tab.

ALSO READ:  Stadium Spending leaves Katy School Board in Bind

“They buy the land first and worry about mobility later,” a frustrated Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack told Covering Katy earlier this year. “We’re having to work with the district to explain to them all the left-hand lanes going into the stadium parking lot,” Radack said at the time.

Only $3 million of the additional spending is for a discretionary project. The other $9 million is for spending that is necessary but not in the original plans, and not revealed to voters.

Voters approved a stadium that had an unfinished second floor above the field house. The district said that area was for a future use, but the school board decided it wanted to finish off the second floor prior to the stadium opening. The additional cost was $3 million. The money came from unspent 2010 bond funds.

At the time of the 2014 election, the school district said the second floor would be built out at a later date, which made the overall cost of the project lower. The lower price tag made the project more palatable to voters who had rejected a more expensive stadium plan a year earlier. The district also made the plan less expensive by removing 2,000 seats from the 2013 proposal.

The stadium will open in 2017 and will seat 12,000 people. It was approved by voters in November 2014 as part of a $748 million school bond package.

The total amount added to the cost of the stadium since it was approved by voters is $12,335,109, according to the school district.

 

38 Comments

  1. Wow, 12M more, why am I not surprised! So, I guess the tax payer will get the joy of covering this at some point? I cannot for the life of me guess why the cost of this would be so high. And why we couldn’t build a complex to include all types sports with the same money? Other ISD’s around the state have facilities to host large events for sports like baseball and swimming, etc. I hear the argument all the time that all of our schools have pools (since my child swims), all the schools have football fields too! But we needed a football field we couldn’t afford. I can’t wait to see 12,000 people at a game, when the current stadium seems to be never filled.

  2. So glad our family moved out of Katy ISD to Pa. this summer, where our district cares more about the individual academic success of its students that STARR testing outcomes and sports programs….and the state and county provides the resources their kids need to succeed, like classrooms that aren’t cramped and the teachers actually know their students by name and the child isn’t a number. Good reddens Texas!

    1. If you’re placing blame for children’s academic issues on teachers then I’m guessing you don’t really understand the KISD situation – teachers are so far down the list of blame in this district you can’t hardly see ’em. Good luck to you in Pennsylvania!

    2. KISD is a quickly-growing district – nowhere in Pennsylvania is growing as fast as here – which means that new teachers come in all the time. While it’s possible that your child(ren)’s teacher didn’t know their name on Day 1, placing blame on them for much of anything is pretty laughable with all things considered in the KISD situation. They are SO far down the list of blame you can’t hardly see ’em!

      Enjoy the 4-5 months of snow and ice every year! 😉

  3. Imagine if we put the money and emphasis of sports into the core education subjects (STEM)? Somebody forgot to budget and plan for roads…..that’s a significant problem around here.

  4. There is no such thing as free money. Taxpayers have to earn these funds.
    The program is obviously in serious trouble with fundamentals before the actual construction of the building. If this team can forget something as fundamental as civil requirements, they can forget contingency, claims and E&O issues as well.
    Katy voters need to take the ISD to task over this fiasco.

  5. Someone needs to be held responsible for this egregious error, if in fact if it was an error. This means that last two bonds were presented with phony numbers. That is no surprise considering the past history of KISD bonds. It will be real interesting to observe if the new Superintendent Lance Hindt and the new trustees hold someone responsible. My guess they won’t. Some things never change. The honeymoon is over.

    1. Don’t be deceptive. There is ONLY one new trustee: George Scott. I opposed the bond issue. I made a statement during the meeting about “THE STADIUM” EVEN THOUGH I did not know at the time Dennis had a posted a story about the cost over run.

      If you have a problem – explicitly with me – then say so. Don’t do a Tom Law or a Chris Cottrell or a Katy Watchdog and bark without substance. What is your problem with the new trustee on the matter of the stadium OR my comments Monday night?

      George

      1. Incidentally, I don’t remember seeing you at the board meeting Monday when the bond issue was a clearly posted agenda item. Would have love to have had your support. But, I guess, you went Tom Law on me.

        George

      2. George you do not know me, but the call from A.D Mueller went out about how tight your board race was coming down to. Myself and a few friends took the time to go down and vote for you. I think our five votes made a difference in you succeeding getting elected. We are hoping you will be the start to bring some spending control back to the school board. Building this stadium is such a waste of taxpayers money. How many times is the current stadium full to its current seating capacity? I was told basically when Katy plays. Whether true or not, how much cheaper would it have been to say expand the seating capacity at say Thompkins High School and had schools play some of their games there on Friday or Saturday. Why did the board think we the taxpayers needed to spend $70 million for a facility that will sit empty for its primary purpose 40 weeks or so a year. I would have preferred them to spend some of this money to provide bussing for our children and pay the teachers a better salary.

  6. The spending was all approved at open and public board meetings then included in the meeting minutes. Katy ISD even summarized the current costs with a table breaking down the added costs and where the money was coming from as well as the board approval dates in the MAY bond update. (Page 5/6) I don’t consider that hidden, you can’t blame the district if all the information is published.
    http://www.katyisd.org/sites/bonds/Documents/2014-Bond_Update_FAQs-May2016.pdf

    1. JT:

      If you can’t understand the difference between “posted” and “publicized” then you’re the perfect KISD constituent – from the Administration’s view, anyway. KISD sends out press releases and photo ops constantly – whenever Frailey or Merrell tied their shoes in under two minutes – we got automated phone calls, glossy flyers in the mail, and color pics in the KISD newsletter = all exhorting the greatness of KISD (especially their Administration and BOT members). When their hotly-contested stadium goes 20% over costs we hear nothing – but it’s “published”. In fact, the only time we really hear about overcrowded classrooms and facilities is mostly during a bond issue campaign – they go FAR beyond “published” whenever they want a few hundred million “for the kids”. That’s why I’m encouraged that Hindt is actually acknowledging the vercrowding issue in a non-bond campaign year – NEVER would have Big Al or Dr. Leo EVER spent more than a few minutes on addressing that issue – they simply would have pivoted the topic to their pretty Board Room or basketball arena or Katy Tiger football team or….

      See the difference JT?

    1. It was as noted in the story. I’ve put the dates in the story. It’s all confirmed. It was before Hindt and before Scott.

  7. Must be a slow news cycle. Last change in the budget was approved in April, it’s now October–what’s the new news? And for those who are identifying all of the other non-construction uses of previous bonds need to refresh the stories which ran when this bond first failed, then passed…you can’t repurpose to salaries or other operating costs.

    1. Kirk, what’s new is that about 9 million of the additional spending was not reported by the media nor did the school district do anything to make the public aware of it. There was no discussion, they just did it. So you can look back at those dates and realize that if not for Covering Katy no one would have known that this stadium will probably cost at least $72 million before it’s completed. It’s not a slow news cycle, it’s Covering Katy being the lone voice of truth in the community. We have the smallest staff of all media in town and yet we continually report on things that others will ignore because they are afraid to report the truth. Follow the money my friend, follow the money. – Dennis Spellman, Covering Katy

      1. The $9m transfer was approved in a board meeting someplace around last September/October… I doubt a large part of the board knew what they were approving, but they did approve it…

        1. Robert, perhaps you can help me get those board members on record for a follow up story saying that they approved spending $9 million, but did not ask where the money was being spent. I’d be happy to allow them to go on the record explaining how that transpired. One of the board members is the Chief Financial Officer of a large corporation. That would mean he has the skill set to know what questions to ask but did not bother to ask, if we are to believe what you are saying. By the way, there is no need for you to guess when the spending happened. It’s all in my story and I received the dates of the spending from documents obtained from the school district.

          I would not even respond to a comment like yours under normal circumstances but you were one of the leaders of the effort to get this bond passed. Your name was in the first sentence of Superintendent Frailey’s thank you letter to supporters. When you make comments like this it carries a different weight. Do you really want to be quoted in a follow up story saying that the board did not know what it was doing when it approved $9 million of the $12 million in extra spending on the stadium?

          1. Ha! I missed the dates in your article, sorry about that… I’ll say this, IMO when reviewing the video of the September 21, 2015 Workstudy meeting, there were no questions or comments on this line item 5.2. This amendment added $9m to the stadium by moving part of the project to the infrastructure section of the budget – which is probably where it should have been to begin with… So, let me rephrase that, they had the recommendation to add $9m to the stadium projects cost and did so without even one comment during open session… Did they do this because they didn’t understand the project budget would increase or did they think it was just a movement of funds between budget line items? Don’t know… I would have thought that a $9m increase would get at least a comment… It would have by me, but maybe they did understand what was happening… And for the record, I found out about this in a CRBC meeting (I believe in May) and voiced my concern, went back to look at when they added this and was shocked no one made even one comment… I totally missed it at the September meeting because it appeared to be a line item shift, not an increase of $9m…

            In contrast, the discussion regarding the second story buildout had lengthy discussions about increasing the projects cost and how that would be received by the public – so much so that the board sent it to the Bond Review Committee for their recommendation… The CBRC sent it back that they did not want bond fund money to be used for the second story buildout but they agreed that it would save the district money in the long run…

            Regarding their comment, can’t help there… It is what it is, the project isn’t going to be stopped but I still don’t like the fact that it will be so far over what we asked them to spend… Lesson learned.

            1. Kinda funny that they DID talk about the extra $3M but there wasn’t a peep about the $9M a year ago…(sigh) It’s already been done and it’s ain’t changin’ now, so let’s see if they can keep it under $80M – I’m all for being #1, but let’s not set the Bar of Sports Stupidity THAT high by throwing on another $10M in the next year to jack it up to $80M. Somehow, I don’t see that happening with Dr. Hindt around – but we WILL see, won’t we?

              (Good to see you back Robert.)

              1. I’ve always been the type to let people show me who they are and this does just that… The $58m was the number I agreed to… The extra $3m was fine as long as they were not using bond money and I thought it made sense because it would be less (by an estimated half) in the long run and the CBRC said find the money elsewhere… I felt we, the committee, did our duty by denying it to be built with bond funds and kicked it back… Oh the talking, stressing, complaining and moaning about this decision to spend $3m more by some on the board… What a show… But not one comment about the $9m they approved two months earlier – not one word…

                Now, I suspect that they didn’t really understand what going on OR they didn’t do their homework and review the information OR some were spending too much time at the schools playing the “important board member roles” to provide oversight – one of their main functions…

                I’m not saying they had any other choice than to approve the line shift and thus the increase – the project isn’t going to be stopped mid-stream and set there incomplete… But you could at least of said SOMETHING… At the same time I believe the Admin pulled one over on them – and frankly, me too… It swooshed right by me and did not register as a project increase of $9m – and I was at that board meeting and have always been sensitive to the $58m for phase one… Silent and smooth, well when you’re not paying attention…

                The $9m, while it’s true it was in the $10m infrastructure budget for the bond, an honest person would have included this expense in the original projects cost – or line items it out in the infrastructure section of the bond…

                Dr. Hindt, IMO is cut from a different cloth…

                (Thanks, never left.)

                1. Robert,

                  Here’s my take on your statements. You personally lead the way in attempting to destroy anyone who had concerns about this stadium. You own it every-bit as much as Frailey. It’s the stadium that Alton and Robert built. He worked the political side and you worked the propaganda/intimidation side. Every time parents look at that portable city at Katy High School they have you to thank. Instead of spending money to solve overcrowding you and your friends pushed the board to spent it on a children’s football stadium.

                  Dennis Spellman
                  Covering Katy

                  1. You can take it any way you like… I know what happened when I was there, what I saw and what I thought was right and wrong… Your opinion of me really doesn’t matter nor does it change the facts…

                    I’d say that my information is much more accurate than yours… That happens when you are actually involved and not throwing stones…

                    1. Robert your reputation in this community as a bully has been cemented. Your claiming that Covering Katy is throwing stones is more of your intimidation and propaganda at work. You just can’t help yourself. Keep talking Robert and I’ll keep approving your statements. I’ll send over another shovel so you can burry yourself faster.

  8. Now we can say we have the most expensive High School Football Stadium in the world. Also, one of the highest debt services in Texas. Katy ISD is very popular with vendors. I bet the board can’t wait to go to Austin with crocodile tears to lobby for more money. Way to go trustees.

  9. Folks, this isn’t cost overages – it’s SAVINGS! Follow me on this:
    Follow me here: not finishing basic items like utilities, plumbing, etc. was actually a stroke of genius by the ’12-’14 BOT = it allowed them to used all the fruits of their financial wizardry from previous bonds (the unspent $$$ from 2010). So really, they did a GREAT job with the original planning for the stadium, knowing that they had leftover monies from earlier bonds (insert pat on their backs here). So if you really want to look at things from KISD’s view, the $12M (and growing) over the $58M is just FREE MONEY, so to speak.

    Have you thanked your local BOT member lately – including the now-replaced Joe Adams? Don’t forget to drop Big Al a positive note on Twitter too!

    1. A stroke of genius manipulating the tax payers. And why were there left over monies? Shouldn’t those have been spent on the purpose provided to the taxpayers at the time they were voted on? It was a deception in 2013 as well, rolling the stadium in with other educational facilities, in the name of education.

    2. There is no such thing as free money. The funds are paid for by taxpayers who have to earn the money. Frankly, this town could use a serious belt tightening at ISD. This project is in very serious trouble even before the construction of the facility begins, hang on to your hats folks as any project team that forgets fundamentals such as funds for roads or property improvements has no clue about contingency funds. This thing is going to get out of control.

  10. That is $5,833 per seat not counting the land acquisition. Not a good deal! Seating for 12K is not a big stadium either. Someone got taken big time. Taxpayers??????

  11. Are these the same people who couldn’t do a simple calculatation to determine how much a useless 4 year degree would cost ?
    And now want me to also pay their tuition ?
    Time to go away !!!

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