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Friday night goes dark as Texas school shuts $60 million football stadium

By Jana J Pruet

DALLAS (Reuters) - One of the most expensive high school football stadiums in the United States has been temporarily shut due to structural problems less than two years after it opened in the Dallas suburb of Allen.

The $60 million stadium has developed cracks of nearly an inch wide in the concrete of its elevated concourse that could make it unsafe, the school district said this week.

In Allen, as in many parts of Texas, high school football games are some of the most important events on the calendar. Texas high school football is such a cultural phenomenon that it has inspired a book, movie and TV series, all called "Friday Night Lights."

The Allen Eagles football team won their division last year in statewide competition.

"It is unacceptable. Our students, families, and the entire community have always supported the district and our commitment to them is to make sure this issue is appropriately resolved," Beth Nichols, the interim school superintendent, said in a statement on Thursday.

The eye-popping price for the 18,000-seater stadium that includes a $1.3 million scoreboard, was financed as part of a voter-approved $119 million bond package.

A full inspection and review by an outside engineering and consulting firm is expected to be completed by June.

"It's a big deal when you spend that much money and something goes wrong that quickly," said Rob Richey, who lives in Allen and has two children attending school in the district.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool)

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