August 20, 2008
Bringing entertainment to Sugar Land

Sugar Land wants to be a more entertaining place than it is now.

Sugar Land City Council is considering a measure to create an entertainment district that would include among other things, a concert hall, minor league baseball stadium and a hotel-convention center.

If council approves the item at its regular meeting today, the measure would be put on the November ballot.

Council did approve this measure.

The proposed district is similar to what is being done in other Texas cities, particularly in the Dallas area.

Sugar Land leaders say the district offers a place where locals can go for fun and entertainment without having to leave the city.

"The goal we have always had is to try and create a community where people can live, work, play and be educated and do all of those things within that community," said former Sugar Land Mayor Dave Wallace, co-chairman of the committee studying the project.

However, city officials also want to attract nonresidents to the venues to bring in dollars and thereby boost the local economy.

If The Woodlands can accomplish that, I don't see any reason why Sugar Land can't. It'd take something pretty special to get me to drive all the way out there, but there's plenty of people closer by that they can aim for. And since I mentioned driving, I should point out that in the longer term, some form of rail can and should be an option for this. I hope someone involved in this project has considered that.

The district will feature five basic parts, said Joe Esch, executive director of the city's business and intergovernmental relations office.

Esch said plans call for an indoor concert hall of about 6,500 seats, the baseball stadium, a hotel-conference center, a festival site and a cultural arts facility. The entertainment district would adjoin a park that is being constructed along the banks of the Brazos River. The complex would be be erected on land owned by the University of Houston-Sugar Land.

Esch said the size of the stadium would be determined by what type of team plays there.

But before the city moves forward on attracting a team, much work has to be done with the Houston Astros.

Wallace said the city cannot talk to a major league baseball team about locating an affiliated minor league club in Sugar Land without first discussing it with Astros management.

The Astros' territorial rights cover Fort Bend County and Sugar Land, and a minor league team that was affiliated with a major league club could not be located there without the Astros' approval.

I don't know how open the Stros are going to be to this idea. I suppose it depends to some extent on what level of minor league we're talking - I'm guessing low-A or rookie ball, especially in a short season league, would be less threatening to them - and how much of their audience they draw from this area. I know they want a baseball team, but I'm thinking it would be a good idea to have a Plan B as well. Are they still talking to the Houston Dynamo? Their situation is still unresolved. Hair Balls has more.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 20, 2008 to Elsewhere in Houston

I live in Sugar Land. It sounds great with the following concerns: a minor league ball park sounds unnecessary. why not bring the dynamo out to sugar land. large size concert and baseball crowds may be great for some restaurants but for the rest of us it does not sound appealing. Those that live in the area may find it all to be a big nuisance.

Posted by: cb on August 20, 2008 11:38 AM

I hope they get the team. Heck, I live in Houston and I wish we had one.

Posted by: Charles M on August 20, 2008 12:24 PM

I've heard that the Astros are interested if Fort Bend can make the financing work.

Posted by: Jeb on August 20, 2008 1:06 PM
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