EL PASO, Texas - The game that almost didn't happen is now the game thousands of EI Pasoans will be able to watch as two communities tied by tragedy try to heal.
KVIA-TV has partnered with Dallas' ABC affiliate, WFAA-TV, to broadcast the football match between the Eastwood High School Troopers and the Plano Senior High School Wildcats.
The game will be Thursday, September 5 at 6 p.m. MT at the Ford Center, also known as "The Star in Frisco." It is the practice field for the Dallas Cowboys. Both stations are displacing their primetime programming to broadcast the game and provide it on their digital platforms. Both the Ysleta and Plano ISDs had to give permission for the game to be broadcast.
The schools were set to play on Friday, September 6 in Plano but the superintendent for the Plano Independent School District, Sara Bonser, canceled the game citing safety concerns.
The gunman accused of killing 22 people at an El Paso Walmart and injuring two dozen others on August 3 attended Plano Senior High School. Patrick Crusius faces capital murder charges and the possibility of a death sentence.
"We grieve with our neighbors in El Paso and are heartbroken that what is happening in society today is affecting our kids and our communities," Bonser said in a statement. "Our students and coaches were eager for this opportunity to come together with Eastwood High to promote a message of compassion and healing, but what should be a celebratory event would be encumbered by safety concerns for the participants and fans of both teams. Our top priority must be the safety of all."
She did not reveal any specific threats.
Days later, on August 16, and after an outcry in both North and Far West Texas, Bonser reversed her decision.
The game was moved up one day and moved to The Star in Frisco, an enclosed arena.
Joe Parks, the director of safety and security for Plano ISD said, "we're comfortable with the level of security at that venue." He said the school district has experience with the Ford Center because they've held graduation ceremonies there.
YISD superintdent Xavier De La Torre said "the way security is set up, there is far more than you'd find at a high school stadium."
"This was never about anything but safety," Bonser explained in a news conference, noting the district had consulted with law enforcement in making the initial cancelation decision. "It was never intended as an insult. Certainly we understood the gravity of all of the emotions that would surface, but safety comes before popular opinion."