The pavilion area outside Robertson Stadium is where the Houston Dynamo likes to host its special VIP parties. Sometimes it comes complete with lakeside dining, Dynamo president Oliver Luck says. That's when it floods.
All things being equal, the Dynamo won the national MLS title which should give its players and fans a little more bargaining power. Given that and the upcoming holiday season, it's time for a wish list.
Your wish list for the Dynamos and MLS soccer in general:
More kinds of beer More at-your-seat service of beer Cleaner toilets Cleaner floors where they keep the toilets so it's not like wading through a Saigon swamp A sponsor who's name isn't Dick's Sporting Goods (insert giggle here) You name it : ________________________________
Post championship, I called Luck to see what the suits on the business side would like to do for the team which plays in the University of Houston's aging Robertson Stadium.
Luck started out modestly enough, but built up steam as he went along. (He asterisked all of this with frequent mentions of how great it has been to work with UH.)
To begin with, in his best-of-all-possible-worlds list, he'd like better ingress and egress to Robertson Stadium. "It's difficult getting in on Cullen and Scott," he said, neglecting to also mention how Interstate 45 on a game day often shuts down. UH and Houston police both help with the traffic, but it still remains "a challenge," he said.
For his second wish, Luck moved from driving to parking, as in: it's really tough to park at a university. So tough, in fact, that they've had to forget about hosting mid-week "friendlies" games between top teams from other countries — El Salvador was one -- the kind of games that tend to double the crowd attending Dynamo games. "UH had to turn down a couple of friendlies games," Luck said, because the lots were filled with students attending classes. Losing these kind of games means lost income.
In a perfect stadium, there wouldn't be football hash marks, Luck said. National television doesn't like to show games with soccer fields divided up in 10-yard increments. That's kept the Dynamo off national TV when they play at home, including the Western Conference finals, Luck said. According to Luck, this is not aesthetically pleasing to the pure soccer fan.
The No. 1 fix Luck would like to make remains the concessions. The Dynamo need bigger and better concessions, Luck said. Fans are used to walking into Reliant Stadium, Minute Maid Park, even the University of Texas's football stadium and expecting a level of choice, cleanliness and service that so far hasn't surfaced at Robertson.
This has been discussed all season and there's been no solution. Aramark can't seem to get out of slo-mo and get the food and drink into the stands. Fans lose out on the non-stop game if they line-up for a dogger.
After the jump: Three things every experienced Dynamo fan knows...
Three things the experienced Dynamo fan knows:
1. Don't buy any drinks there because if you do, you'll have to go to the restrooms. The plumbing there is 60 years old and it's not holding up.
2. There's not a very good selection of beer. Bud and Miller Lite. Houston may be an international city, but we're a gulag when it comes to beer variety in Robertson. There's also not an especially good selection of food.
3. Either get there early and get your food ahead of time or get something on the road before the game. Unless Dippin' Dots with a beer chaser appeal to you, dine out elsewhere first.
Oh and by the way, the stadium's underlying electrical grid is 60 years old. The Dynamo had to haul in lights for its first several games because there wasn't enough candlepower going on, Luck said.
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As for Robertson's "suites," the Dynamo hasn't been peddling those real hard for corporate sponsorships, Luck said. "They look like and they are a converted press box. The air conditioners in there, some of them work and some of them don't. They all drip."
Locked into two more years at Robertson with the prospect of more if some big sponsors and donors don't show up to finance a stadium all its own, the Dynamo management team has to debate how much additional money it wants to sink into making Robertson nicer. One red flag: the master plan for UH calls for filling up its parking lots with more buildings.
UH, which used to have a first class football program, might think about updating if not for the Dynamo then for itself. It's still trying to live down Bleachergate in 2001 when it insisted it could host the UT-Houston game, sold 3,000 tickets to UT students and then told them the bleachers had been condemned and they had the option of watching the game on the big screen in Hofheinz Pavilion. The athletic director at UT is reported to have said he wouldn't have UT play UH again until his grandchildren were dead.
Here's a clue to everyone: get Mattress Mac. Jim McIngvale got a convoy of buses and fans to the game in Dallas. He organized this in less than a week. McIngvale gets furniture to your home THE SAME DAY. We bet he can figure out a way to put a beer in your hand in the stands, clean up the facilities and move those cars in an out of the parking lot faster than you can say "saves you money." -- Margaret Downing