March 02, 2008
Parker on the soccer stadium

City Controller Annise Parker has the following to say about the proposed deal for Dynamo Stadium:

City Controller Annise Parker wants clarity in discussing public funding of the proposed Dynamo soccer stadium.

The city is attempting to acquire a six-block tract east of downtown through a combined purchase and land swap. That tract may be offered to the Houston Dynamo as a site for their proposed stadium. The city has previously participated in the downtown baseball and basketball venues so this is not unprecedented. If the city does not complete a Dynamo deal, the tract would be held until a use is determined.

"My first concern is for the land acquisition. While there has been public speculation about the use of the land, the request for council action identifies no specific public purpose. That is backward public policy," the controller stated. "The city is not in the land speculation business. Council should know for what purpose the land will be used."

Mayor Bill White favors using money from the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) located just east of downtown to cover the purchase of five of the six blocks. When a TIRZ is created the city agrees to return to the zone any growth in property taxes resulting from increased development. In turn, the TIRZ can borrow against those dollars for infrastructure improvements or use those dollars for enhanced street lights, sidewalks, landscaping and other public improvements.

"TIRZ dollars are property taxes. This is a legitimate use of TIRZ monies, but to say there will be no public dollars, or tax dollars, used for this purchase is simply inaccurate," she said.

The sixth block will be acquired through a land swap using water and sewer ratepayer dollars. "I am concerned about the use of public utility revenues to help make this deal possible. Our water and sewer customers should not be helping to subsidize a professional sports facility, no matter how much we want it," the controller said.

The deal was delayed again by Council till next week. We'll see what happens next.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 02, 2008 to Other sports

The real question is why Bill White is so insistent that the city buy this land since it already apparently owns land just to the north which could be used for the stadium according to some reports. If so, then someone obviously just wants to sell the land for more than its market value and found a "willing buyer" which in this case is the taxpayers - the deal stinks and stinks to high heaven and one of the things that stinks is that the owner of the land is a former city councilmember who obviously is still an "insider" at City Hall.

Posted by: Baby Snooks on March 2, 2008 3:17 PM
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