Dynamo Stadium deal finally struck

Took ’em long enough.

The city of Houston and Harris County have struck a potential deal on a new stadium for the Houston Dynamo and Texas Southern University’s football team, agreeing to jointly pay for $20 million in infrastructure upgrades if the soccer team follows through with a commitment to foot the bill for the $60 million stadium construction costs.

The deal, outlined today in a City Council committee meeting, ended years of negotiations that began when the city purchased a $15 million parcel of land in January 2008. The county has agreed to pay for half those costs to finance the stadium, which would be built, pending approval from City Council and Commissioner’s Court, on land just east of Downtown bordered by Texas Avenue, Walker Street and Dowling Street.

So in the end it took a lot longer than it should have to wind up with what everyone thought it would be at the beginning. In other words, a lot like the health care reform bill, but with fewer Armageddon references and no frivolous lawsuits. Yet.

There are things that still need to be done.

Among the items on the to-do list:

• The Dynamo have to negotiate a lease;

• A new tax increment zone must be created, and the county must join it;

• The stadium’s parking must accommodate Astros parking as well.

“There are about 10 different agreements,” [City of Houston Chief Development Officer Andy] Icken said.

First things first, the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority must agree to take on the role of negotiating with the Dynamo, which will be addressed at the board meeting on March 25.

Then the stadium could come back on the council agenda next week and Harris County Commissioner’s Court in two weeks.

There’s also the tricky matter of routing the East and Southeast light rail lines around the stadium site, but I suppose that’s a job for Metro. Good thing they have someone on the board who’s already thought of a good solution to that. If all goes well, the pieces should all be in place for construction to start in October and be finished in time for the Dynamo’s 2012 season opener. Assuming other factors have worked themselves out, anyway. Rick Casey has more.

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