Well, this is interesting.
The city is poised to strike a 30-year deal giving back $3 million in projected sales tax to the Houston Dynamo as they prepare to construct their $60 million stadium.
City officials say the tax rebate always has been a part of the deal that kept the team from leaving Houston, one that will make the city and county owners of a new sports stadium for which they did not have to pay.
The rebate will amount to $3 million over 30 years, said Houston Chief Development Officer Andy Icken, a primary negotiator for the city on the deal.
“This was viewed as a trade-off to get this much public infusion for a stadium that, in the end, is getting donated to us,” Icken said. “We were never going to go into this unless there was a substantial private investment in the project.”
Icken said the deal mirrors sales tax rebates the city gave the Houston Texans when it negotiated over the future Reliant Stadium.
Icken denied that the rebate is a new element of the deal, pointing to a December memo he sent City Council members in which he said council would be asked to vote “to reimburse the team for a portion of sales and liquor taxes collected by the operations of the stadium.”
Councilman Mike Sullivan, who voted for the main elements of the deal struck last year between the city and Harris County, said he did not recall any discussion of such a rebate. “I think this evolved as negotiations have taken place with the city and the county, and we’re really just now seeing the changes,” he said.
First I’ve heard of it, too. It’s not really clear to me what this is about. It’s still the case that the Dynamo are spending the vast majority of the money to build the stadium, and it’s still the case that the deal is a good one overall, but the timing on this is lousy. The only thing I can say in its favor is that at least it came out before tomorrow’s Council vote.