August 21, 2008
Will the county kick in for Dynamo Stadium?

Mayor White would like for Harris County to pick up part of the tab for Dynamo Stadium.

Mayor Bill White has asked Harris County to join the city in a Dynamo stadium deal, hinting that a $10 million contribution by the county may be the final step needed to finalize a deal with the soccer franchise.

"I'd say the most important issue is how might the county participate," White said.

County Judge Ed Emmett confirmed that Commissioners Court support could be crucial: "I think there's a $10 million shortfall somewhere in their negotiations, and they're looking for a way to do that."

Given the current cost estimate of $105 million, with the Dynamo kicking in $80 million and the city having already contributed $15 million thanks to the land purchase, I'd say that's exactly the case.

Emmett said the county could participate by joining the city's East Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone at the stadium's proposed site. White suggested the county join the TIRZ in a letter he sent to Emmett last month.

Under a tax increment reinvestment zone, property tax revenues generated within the boundaries are frozen at the level when the zone was created. As development occurs and property values rise, tax revenue above that level -- known as the increment -- is funneled back into the zone to pay for improvements to help attract more investment.

City officials are proposing that Harris County join in the East Downtown TIRZ, forgoing $10 million of its share of property taxes from the area.

That money would be combined with the city's share and funneled to the stadium project. The county later would make up the money after the stadium is built and the economically invigorated neighborhood starts generating more property taxes, Emmett said.

Sounds reasonable in theory, anyway. I presume someone will come up with a report that projects how the area develops post-stadium and the new tax revenues that can be expected as a result. It'll be a matter of how plausible it all sounds. Doesn't seem like that big a risk for the county - I'll be a little surprised if Commissioners Lee and Garcia don't sign on. But who knows? Nothing in this long-running story has been easy to predict.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 21, 2008 to Other sports
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