When 2017 comes to a close, more than 10 football games will have been played in Wildcat Stadium, but only five of them by the purple and white.
Through three rounds of the high school football playoffs, Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium will have hosted five high school games in its inaugural season, with potential for more. The Wildcats finished the home portion of their college football schedule back on Nov. 11 and on the following Friday Brownwood and Wichita Falls Hirschi took the field for a first round showdown.
Becky Brown, assistant director of internal operations for the Department of Athletics, organizes all the high school games played at the stadium. She said the games can’t be scheduled until the winners are determined, but there are several teams waiting to play if they win their respective games the week before.
“Teams inquire a few weeks out to be added to the list. Like mentioned above, we cannot schedule until week of,” Brown said. “We will typically host two to three games per weekend depending on how everything shakes out. We usually have a waiting list of 10-15 schools per weekend.”
Of course that number will dwindle as the playoffs carry on, but Brown said the response to this point has been positive for ACU and the high schools.
“Teams have absolutely loved playing in Wildcat Stadium so far. Some coaches and ADs [athletic directors] have started off a little hesitant looking at the cost, but once they get here they realize it’s worth it to play in a Div. 1 stadium,” Brown said.” The players all walk in with phones up on Snapchat and other social media and are excited to get to play here.”
As Brown noted, the price of $10,000 per game can be daunting to some of the smaller schools, but after game play expenses she said ACU makes only a small profit.
“Our basic costs to host a game are extremely high and the $10,000 covers that and we make a small amount revenue,” Brown said. “We recognize that the cost is high, however we want to reiterate that we are not trying to nickel and dime these schools by having such a high cost. After hard expenses we just make a couple thousand dollars per game which does not account for soft costs such as utilities, wear and tear on field and stands, et cetera.”
Director of Athletics Lee De Leon acknowledged that the small amount of revenue does help athletics reach its financial goals, but said it is not the main motive for hosting these games at the stadium. De Leon said a point of emphasis for this stadium was to interact and engage more than the ACU community and these games are a good way to do that.
“We want this to be a facility that could be utilized by the whole community, by the whole big country,” De Leon said. “High school games are one of many things that we hope to host in Wildcat Stadium.”
De Leon said this is also a great way for campus and its programs to get exposure among potential students and there has been lots of positive feedback about the facilities.
“A lot of these parents and fans would never be on ACU’s campus if we didn’t have our own football stadium,” De Leon said. “So this is getting all those people on our campus for the first time. This is a Div. 1 caliber facility and they can understand that ACU is serious about its commitment to Div. 1 athletics.”
This weekend will feature the fourth and fifth high school games played at Wildcat Stadium, when Graham takes on Sweetwater at 7 p.m. and Lubbock Coronado faces Colleyville Heritage Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Brown said she expects more games to be played, but teams on the waiting list have to win this weekend’s games before anything can be scheduled.