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.
“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.