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The best football factory in America has recently moved their operations to an all new facility in North Dallas. Join us as we take a tour inside.

Made in Texas: A Visit to Big Game Football Factory

In this recurring series, we visit the best product brands in the Lone Star State, and introduce you to the Texans behind them. Our Made in Texas series is an extension of our popular 2013 publication, Texas Works: Products and Portraits of Talent. Photos by Caleb Kerr.


Introduction

Texas is home to one of the best football factories in the world. Few people know that fact, however. The folks at Big Game work in relative obscurity, as most of their products leave their loading dock branded with iconic names like Nike and Adidas, or as commemorative balls celebrating seemingly every brand other than their own. 

But in our view, they’re a brand worth celebrating. Their products are quality, their employees are friendly, and most important to any Texan: their enthusiasm for football is unmatched. 

In the early fall of 2014, just as the first snaps of the football season were made across America, Big Game USA moved their factory from Frisco, Texas to a larger, more capable facility in North Dallas. We wanted to be among the first to visit their new home, and share with you what we saw.

Well, most of what we saw, anyway. Big Game has perfected the difficult process of consistently manufacturing products that meet the stringent requirements of governing authorities like the NCAA. This achievement is largely the result of their trade secrets, and appropriately, we've kept those secrets to ourselves. What we can show you otherwise is presented in the photo tour below, the first entry to our Made in Texas series: A Visit to Big Game Football Factory. 

Big Game USA

The Tour


The process of hand-making game play and commemorative footballs begins and ends in this spacious room, with vibrant walls celebrating athletes using Big Game footballs.

Big Game Football Factory

The outer skin of each ball is made of four equally sized "football-shaped" pieces, each manually stamped using a die.

Big Game Football Factory in Fort Worth, Texas

Big Game USA

Production at Big Game USA

There are multiple sizes and regulations for footballs depending on the level of play. Big Game produces balls for all levels.  

Big Game USA produces balls for all levels of play.

Beyond balls intended for regulation game play, Big Game also makes commemorative and specialty balls using the same process. Big Game's hero ball, the 1906 Collegiate Leather Football, is made of real leather, while non-gameplay balls use synthetic panels.

Big Game USA

Customization is a part of daily production at the factory. Big Game does brand a lot of footballs with their own logo, but the majority of the balls are stamped with "Nike" or "Adidas." Perhaps you've heard of 'em. Those balls are manufactured specifically for the collegiate football programs sponsored by these sporting goods giants. As a result, you can find custom press plates for most of the top college football programs right there on the Big Game factory floor. 

On the Big Game Factory Floor

Once the panels are cut, they're sewn together by hand using industrial sewing machines.

Panels of the footballs being sewn together on industrial sewing machines.

Tour of the Big Game Football Factory

The panels are sewn inside out to keep the seams concealed on the inside.

Football panels being sewn together at Big Game USA

Once stitched, the seams are flattened, to eliminate bulges.

Touring the Big Game Football Factory

Big Game USA

Industrial sewing machines at Big Game Football Factory

Big Game USA

Inside the Big Game Football Factory

Footballs by Big Game USA

At this stage, the primary construction is complete. The balls are now ready to be turned inside out. 

Footballs are turned inside out during the process

Balls are warmed slightly to make the process of inversion easier.

Big Game USA

Touring the Big Game's new football factory

Big Game USA

Big Game Football Factory

Next, the air bladder is installed and the ball is partially inflated.  

Air bladder is installed in the Big Game football

Big Game Football Factory

The laces are then threaded with the assistance of a special tool akin to a screwdriver with a hole through the tip. This design helps them pull the laces back and forth through the holes more easily than if done with their fingers alone.

Laces being threaded on Big Game's footballs

Laces are threaded with a special tool

Big Game USA

After the laces are in place, the ball is inflated fully. A final quality control check makes sure everything is in order, down to the exact alignment of each lace.

After the laces are in place, the footballs are fully inflated

Big Game Football Factory

Shown below: A finished Nike Vapor Elite ball.

A finished Nike Vapor Elite ball

A basket of Big Game USA footballs

Beyond custom vinyl panels sewn into the ball, some commemorative balls are painted for individual players.

Commemorative balls being painted

Big Game USA

Commemorative footballs for players

Our favorite photo from our visit to Big Game Football Factory is the photo of our pile of footballs. You can't tell, but the ones on the bottom layer are deflated, keeping them from rolling away. 

Pile of Big Game USA footballs

Special thanks to Big Game USA founder and owner, Chris Calandro (below), as well as Sarah Kaiser, Cory Jensen, and the rest of the talent Big Game staff for hosting us on this tour. If you'd like to visit Big Game Football Factory, you can do so Monday - Friday between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. They're located at 13835 Welch Road, Dallas, Texas 75244. 

Chris Calandro of Big Game Football

- N4SJ

 

Comments

Gary Howell :

Big football fan. From the Great State of Texas, now living in Montague Michigan. BIG Dallas Cowboys fans of course. Very Interesting website. Now I know ALL ABOUT how footballs are made in the Great State of Texas, then delivered World Wide, pretty cool. Only in the Great State of Texas.

Jan 02, 2017

Hector Arteaga:

Is it possible to get a Texas Longhorn game ball for my son too? Let me know…….awesome manufacturing from start to finish…….

Dec 07, 2015

Diane Tingle:

Is it possible for me to buy an authentic Texas A&M game ball directly from you?
Aggie son is asking for only that for Xmas!
Thanks
Diane Tingle

Nov 22, 2015

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