So much has been made of the Packers’ practice location this week. The media’s acting as if Green Bay has never practiced in an indoor facility before the way they’re talking about the digs at Highland Park High School.
The high school’s indoor all-sports facility, home to the Packers’ practices this week after the Dallas weather turned into Green Bay’s, is quite nice, sure enough. You’ve seen it on SportsCenter by now, I’m sure. The MPF (multi-purpose facility, as it’s called on campus) is less than a year old and has a 90-yard football field with room to spare on the sidelines. It has two batting cages that drop down from the ceiling, soccer lines painted onto the field (soccer’s a spring sport in Texas), a dynamic sound system, and even the marching band and drill teams have practiced in there.
It rivals any college or pro facility, and is nicer than the one at well-known Southlake Carroll High School where the Dallas Cowboys practice during sloppy weather. But the media’s been carried away on this. Yes, it had a $4.7 million price tag – a lot of money on anyone’s ledger. It’s arguably the nicest indoor facility in the region, and it’s regarded as the largest. Which is probably why the Packers are working out there rather than one of the other 35 facilities at high schools in the area.
That’s right, there are 36 high schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that have indoor facilities of some sort. So let’s not go nuts on the cost of Highland Park’s MPF. It was raised with private funds – the Highland Park Booster Club gave an even $1 million, saved up over a 10-year period, to help the construction get started.
That’s the part of the story that the media has left out. I have to defend the ol’ alma mater on this one. Yes, Highland Park is the former stomping grounds of Doak Walker, Bobby Layne, Clayton Kershaw, Matthew Stafford . . . and me. Please notice I placed myself last on that short list on purpose. Everyone knows we love our football in Texas. But it’s not like they skipped out on new textbooks for the kids, laid off 100 teachers and serve Spam in the cafeteria in order to build an indoor practice palace.
Highland Park’s is the latest of the area’s 36 facilities to be built, although more are sure to come. It’s been cool to see the place on SportsCenter, and Highland Park’s received plenty of positive pub from Green Bay’s visit. But enough’s enough. Remember everyone – private donations. That’s $4.7 million in personal checks donated to the cause, and they even left out the air conditioner, not that anyone’s looking for cooler air this week as the North Pole blows through. (Why leave out the $300,000 air conditioning system when they’ve already spent $4.47 million? But I digress.)
I just had to get that off my chest and defend my alma mater lest the media blow out rumors that the priorities are out of whack there. They’ve got it right at Highland Park – academics first, then football second, and third, and fourth and fifth.
But who’s counting.
About the Author
Written by Scott Farrell
Scott Farrell is the publisher of ScotSports.com in Dallas, Texas. He is a former sports writer for The Dallas Morning News, and also works as a freelance statistician for TV sports productions, most recently for ESPN at the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. Farrell has covered high school sports in Dallas for 21 years, and has also worked in athletic media relations at SMU, Fresno State and Texas-Arlington. He won Best Sports Coverage Awards from the Texas Press Association three times and Best Sports Writing once. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.