About 24 hours after announcing it canceled the football game between Plano Senior High School and El Paso Eastwood High due to safety concerns, Plano ISD on Friday afternoon announced the game is back on with a date and venue change. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 5 at The Ford Center at The Star, 9 Cowboys Way, Frisco.
PISD’s original decision came in the wake of the mass shooting that took place in El Paso on Aug. 3, when 22 people were killed and 25 wounded. The suspect was later identified as Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old Allen resident who attended Plano Senior High School.
PISD Superintendent Sara Bonser said the decision was difficult but was made in the interest of security and the timing of the game, originally scheduled for Sept. 6.
“As superintendent, it is and will continue to be the top priority of safety and security for our students, our families, our community and anyone who visits our community,” she said. “Ultimately, I put the safety of students and community first, and I cannot and will not regret that decision, one that makes our community and those visiting our community safe.”
Bonser said officials feel the Ford Center is better equipped to provide the security needed to accommodate the game. While they did not cite specific safety concerns, officials said they focused on what could happen in this unique situation.
“The circumstances surrounding this game are very unique,” PISD security director Joe Parks said. “These circumstances are not present in any of the other football games that we would host here in Plano. The venue, The Star, from its construction up, is more secure. … Your high school stadiums don’t have that level of security.”
Frisco Lebanon Trail was scheduled to play at The Star that day, but Frisco ISD moved the game to Toyota Stadium and worked alongside Dallas Cowboys staff to accommodate Plano and Eastwood.
“Frisco ISD was happy to assist one of our neighboring school districts and provide a solution for these teams,” Frisco ISD Superintendent Mike Waldrip said.
Bonser noted the “community spirit” provided by Frisco and the Dallas Cowboys as the district worked to find a solution.
FISD Athletic Director David Kuykendall said even if a district facility wasn’t available, officials would have tried to move things around to help.
“We’re in the business of helping kids, and we were able to help another public school district,” he said. “Frisco ISD is fortunate to have some great facilities to use, and we’re glad that a facility was available.”
Next month’s meeting marks the second year of a contract between the Wildcats and Troopers, with Eastwood traveling to Plano both years.
Joey Uptergrove, Denton resident and Eastwood alum, has been spearheading efforts for his alumni group to meet together for the game and provide dinner for the Troopers’ boosters.
“It was cool for Frisco to do that, it was cool for Jerry (Jones) to do that, and I’m excited,” he said. “I’m glad Plano stepped back up to the plate.”
Alumni group member Dawna Hubert, a 1988 Eastwood graduate and current Lucas resident, said she was disappointed by PISD’s decision, but she believes this is a good resolution.
A Plano ISD mom herself, Hubert said hundreds of Eastwood alumni and El Paso residents from other schools are planning to come to the game in support of the team.