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Do you deserve this stadium?

Can we please not lose sight of what the issues are when discussing Dynamo Stadium?

Two MLS championships by the Dynamo, and the professional game is thriving. The Dynamo brand has been ingrained locally in just two short years.

“Look at the popularity of this team now,” said Tim Leiweke, president of AEG, which co-owns the Dynamo with boxer/promoter Oscar De La Hoya and Gabriel Brener. “Look at the people that turn out for rallies. Look at the people that turn out for games. If they get their own stadium, I think you are going to see a dynasty built with this franchise and this sport.”

[…]

“It’s time to call the question,” Lieweke said. ” If you look at all the teams in town they all have new facilities. The Dynamo fans have proved they should not be looked past. They deserve a new facility. They’ve supported us.

“We’re prepared to put a lot of private money into this. In fact we’ll have a higher share of private money in this facility than any of the other facilities with any of the other owners in this town.

“Oscar [de la Hoya] is going to put a lot more money into the stadium with us. We’re intent on trying to get this deal done because I think by 2010 it is important for this team to be in their own facility.”

Over the years Houston has been deservedly proud of stadiums built for the Astros, Texans, Rockets and the rodeo. The public sector issued over $1 billion of bonds to build those stadiums.

A new stadium for the Dynamo would give the team an opportunity to become profitable by controlling more revenue streams. The stadium would draw other high-profile soccer events that would bring revenue and people to our city.

The stadium also would be available for other events and sports as stadiums these days are built with more than one sport or attraction in mind.

Hasn’t soccer and the Dynamo done enough to deserve a stadium?

That’s not the relevant question. I think it’s pretty clear there’s sufficient support to make Dynamo Stadium happen. It’s just a matter of time and details. But it’s those details that are the real debate. While I agree that downtown is the right place for Dynamo Stadium, are we sure we’ve picked the best location downtown? While I agree that a certain amount of public funding may be used as part of this deal, have we agreed on how much that certain amount can be, and what the funding source is? Do we know for sure what the city is getting itself into? These are the questions we need to answer.

And maybe now we’ll start to get some of them.

The City Council voted Wednesday to spend $15.5 million to purchase five downtown blocks being eyed for a Houston Dynamo soccer stadium. The council also approved a land swap to obtain an additional block.

As he has since the land deal first was announced, Mayor Bill White would not confirm that the six-block rectangle definitely would be used for a professional soccer stadium. If a deal with the team owners fails to materialize, the city could seek other private development for the site, White said.

Anschutz Entertainment Group operates the team but shares ownership with boxing star Oscar De La Hoya and Brener International Group. AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said last week that he would like to conclude a deal with the city by April 1, or the team will reconsider sites in the suburbs.

Leiweke was out of the country Wednesday, but AEG spokesman Michael Roth said the company was “very pleased” with the council’s decision. He offered no other details on the progress of negotiations.

Well, we’re going to need details, and soon. I’m still concerned about the location and the effect on the grid, and the financial aspect remains a mystery. If we’re going to do this, and it looks like we are, let’s get that out in the open so we can address what can be improved.

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2 Comments

  1. Kevin Whited says:

    ** Well, we’re going to need details, and soon. **

    You won’t be getting details until the whole matter is a fait accompli.

    That’s how the mayor rolls on deals like this, which ought to be apparent by now.

  2. Jeff says:

    I was intimately involved in the 2000 arena referendum that ended in Toyota Center. I am, fortunately or un, more knowledgeable about stadium financing (particularly in Houston) than I would ever care to be. I had to argue for building the arena too many times to count and I can tell you the “they won and inspire fans” is a stupid and utterly ridiculous reason to build a stadium.

    I’m all for the Dynamo getting new digs. But, how about a mild attempt at a decent reason.

    It’s ironic that, after the first stadium (Minute Maid), the most difficult building to get past the general public was the TC, which holds the most events, cost the least and brings in the most business for the city of all of them. That took two full referendums. We didn’t even HAVE a team and the Texans got pretty much a free ride on Reliant and now the Dynamo, riding a wave of popularity, are getting one.