Does Texas need a $69.5M high school football stadium? Voters to decide

Katy stadium
A rendering of the proposed stadium for Katy, Texas.

(CBS News) Voters in Katy, Texas, will decide on whether to pay for a new high school football stadium with a $69.5 million price tag.

The school district's current stadium is 34 years old and was built when there were only three high schools in the area. Now seven schools must share it, and school officials say the time to build a new one is now.

When its game day in Katy, the Tigers can roar with the best of them, but the defending state champs share their aging facility with six other football teams.

School officials say the district has outgrown it. They want voters to approve the sale of bonds to kick off construction of the 14,000-seat stadium.

Asked about critics concerns that is a luxurious, kind-of-out-of-control stadium, John Eberlan, a project committee member, said: "That's not what we've designed -- not at all."

So what is what they've designed?

"We told the architects that what we needed was a stadium that would pass, and so we needed to present to the community a reasonable, conservative construction," Eberlan said.

Surprisingly, one of the plan's loudest critics is in the stands. Cyndi Lawrence is a local tea party leader. Her son -- a junior high school quarterback -- could eventually play in the proposed stadium.

"It comes out to be $5,000, almost $5,000 per seat," Lawrence said. "At 14,000 seats, I have real issue with that price tag. It's outlandish and I think the taxpayers are starting to realize its way too much."

Though Lawrence said her son wants to play in the stadium, she said, "I understand that. ... But another thing they need to understand too is that somebody has got to pay for this stadium. It just doesn't come out of thin air. Where do they get the money to pay for this stadium?

Supporters say the stadium's cost would not increase property taxes. But Lawrence worries it could eventually lead to a tax hike when the district needs money for new schools.

"It's just like charging a credit card -- eventually it will be maxed out where they've got to change something," Lawrence said.

Other Texas cities haven't shied away from big budget stadiums. Two years ago, Allen, Texas, built a $59 million, 18,000-seat stadium for the Allen Eagles. It has a state-of-the-art scoreboard, 42 concession stands, and 192 public toilets.

Officials insist they're not trying to compete.

Eberlan said: "Allen decided, for their district, that they would build a stadium for one high school. We're building a second stadium that will serve seven high schools."

Asked if this is the time to do it, Eberlan replied, "Absolutely."

Now it's up to the voters in an election that both sides will watch as intensely as they watch every Tigers game.

Lawrence said, "People here live and breathe high school football."

If the vote passes in Tuesday's election in Texas, the new stadium could be up and running in time for the 2015 football season.

Watch Manuel Bojorquez's full report above.