Collin County’s growth caused North Texas city officials to get ready for newcomers. While some towns are focusing on improving city infrastructure such as water and energy and roads, Melissa is preparing for football fans with a brand new $35 million high school football stadium.
It might seem like overkill to build a 10,000 seats stadium for a school district that houses close to 1,300 students, but, on one hand, in only two decades Melissa went from less than 900 residents in 1999 to over 19,000 in 2022, and at that rate, those seats will be occupied in no time. On the other hand, this is Texas after all — everything’s bigger here.
Next week, Melissa Cardinals open their season as the top-ranked team in Texas in 5A-D2 with a match against No. 3-ranked Argyle Eagles in their own state-of-the-art stadium.
Named after coach Kenny Deel, the new stadium opened on Aug. 17, 2023, to celebrate the milestone with a meet-the-Cardinals event for the school district community complete with live music, cheerleading, food and autographs from the team.
When Deel began working for Melissa ISD as a science teacher-coach in the late ‘80s, it was only a kindergarten through-8th-grade district, with no high school. “When I came here, there were nine convenience stores, maybe five churches,” Deel recalled in an interview with the local podcast Heart of Melissa. “I’ve been here long enough to where they were just dirt roads.”
Eight years ago, when Deel reached 25 years of service at the district level, he received news of the stadium. “It's hard. It's really hard to describe,” said Deel, recalling the moment when he found out the stadium was named after him. “I mean, that's truly the probably, you know, one of the ultimate recognition of life is to have a building named after you. And it's pretty special.”
Now all students and residents can enjoy the new stadium on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023, when the first match of the season is played at Kenny Deel Stadium.