Allen prepares to welcome NFL, scouts for all-star game next week
Kelsey Kruzich/Staff Photo - Starting Monday, the Village at Allen will welcome the NFL for its annual Texas vs. The Nation all-star game, which will be held at Allen Eagle Stadium.
Allen is no stranger to hospitality and tourism.
Since 2009, the Allen Event Center has played host to everything from the Dallas Sidekicks to Reba McIntyre.
But now the city has Eagle Stadium, another venue attracting what it hopes will be equally impactful events, the most recent courtesy of the NFL.
For six years, the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game has gained a reputation for making many young athletes' dreams come true at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso and the Alamodome in San Antonio.
This year, the game will be held Feb. 2 at Allen's Eagle Stadium.
Two teams consisting of 110 graduating collegiate seniors with draft ratings from the NFL vying for a chance to play for the national league.
Those players will face off in front of more than 200 scouts, making it a chance-of-a-lifetime event not only for the athletes but for the city as well.
"We're proud to welcome the players, coaches and NFL scouts coming to town for Texas vs. The Nation," Allen Mayor Stephen Terrell said. "Hosting this college all-star game gives us a chance to showcase our city and Allen ISD's premier Eagle Stadium. It's a big win - great football, great location and great for our local economy. "
As of Monday, the Courtyard Dallas Allen at the John Q. Hammonds Center off East Stacy Road had availability for the week leading up to and the weekend of the game, but general manager Michael Kapoulis is expecting "very good crowds" and possibly a sell out.
The Courtyard Dallas Allen has been named host hotel for the game, as Marriott, owner of the hotel, is a national sponsor for the NFL. The scouts begin to arrive Monday and will typically check out Thursday or Friday after observing practices. The hotel will then look forward to greeting the next wave of visitors - the parents.
While it's hard to tell exactly how much revenue the game will bring to Allen, the visitor's bureau believes the game could bring in up to $800,000 for the city, a number calculated based primarily on hotel occupancy during the week of Jan. 27.
With visitors, scouts, players and the NFL's entourage, there are expectations for success and increased tourism, said Karen Cromwell, tourism manager for the Allen Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Because this is the first year Allen has hosted the event, Cromwell said it is somewhat difficult to predict what the city can expect in economic returns until after the fact.
"We'll see what it really turns out to be, it's very hard to gauge," Cromwell said. "When an event is relocated, the first year is a tough factor; right now, we don't necessarily know if we're going to have the same number of ticket sales. The expectation is definitely there because the North Dallas area is such a football fan - a lot of people are very passionate about football here."
Whether from national media entities like The Washington Post and New York Times or local criticism the school district attracted, there have been questions about the funding of a $59.6 million stadium.
Allen athletic director Steve Williams believes hosting events like Texas vs. The Nation is another way the district has reassured those skeptics that the investment will be well worth the returns.
"When we were building this stadium, we felt the finished product would bring us these kinds of opportunities," he said. "But it's good to see that actually come to pass and it's great for our community, especially with all the money coming in to the local restaurants and hotels."
Team Texas head coach and former Dallas Cowboy Bill Bates remembers when Allen "wasn't really a mark on the map." With the explosion of growth that has occurred north of Plano along the U.S. 75 corridor up through McKinney, however, the city of Allen has quickly become much more thanks to a growing population and the construction of facilities like the Allen Event Center and Eagle Stadium.
"The whole part of the nation following football heard of this great monster of a stadium was built for a high school out there, that was of great interest to everybody in the football side of the world and believe me, Texas definitely all around has the best stadiums and the best places to play high school football," Bates said. "This stadium is the premier stadium in high school football. To be able to play at that stadium and be with the great people there in Allen is just amazing."