Panther Stadium will host playoff game, generate funds for LHISD

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By SEAN SHAPIRO

Liberty Hill’s varsity football team may be headed to Copperas Cove on Friday, but Panther Stadium will still be part of the bi-district playoff action.

Waco La Vega and Canyon Lake, one of Liberty Hill’s district rivals, will play their first-round neutral site game at Panther Stadium, which opened in 2013.

Frank Watson, the school district’s chief financial officer, said this is the first time Liberty Hill has hosted a neutral site football game. The old Panther Stadium near Liberty Hill Elementary School didn’t have the appeal nor capacity other teams were looking for.

“There is a demand for good facilities and you have to have a facility that people want to play at,” Watson said. “We now have one that can support a neutral site playoff game, and one that people are wanting to come to.”

It’s also a profitable event for Liberty Hill.

For Class 4A schools and above, like this weekend, Liberty Hill ISD will receive $2,500 plus 10 percent of the gross gate revenue. Smaller schools do get a slight discount, and Watson said Class 3A schools and below would be charged $2,000 for rental.

That fee covers the pay for security, press box operation, custodial, and ticket takers. It doesn’t include concessions, which will be operated by the booster clubs from Liberty Hill High School.

One of the newer stadiums in Central Texas, Panther Stadium also comes at a discount compared to neighboring districts. Georgetown ISD and Leander ISD both charge $3,500 for stadium rental, plus 15 percent of the ticket sales. Georgetown does give Class 4A teams and below a slight discount at $3,000.

Panther Stadium isn’t the only venue available for rent. Watson said Liberty Hill is ready to rent out the gymnasium, baseball field, softball fields, and tennis courts for UIL playoff events in the future.

It could be a growing trend for the district. As the high school football playoffs advance, drawing teams from Dallas and Houston together, Central Texas venues become hot spots for neutral site games.

It also keeps quality football in Liberty Hill for those who can’t make the trip to Copperas Cove on Friday.

“Game starts at 7:30 Friday and it’s two very good teams,” Watson said. “We encourage anyone who can’t follow the Panthers to come watch the game at our stadium.”

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