The Houston Dynamo held a press conference yesterday afternoon to update the community and fans on the progress team's plans heading forward. On hand for the Dynamo were majority owner Tim Leiweke of AEG, and Dynamo Chief Operating Officer Chris Canetti.
Topic numero uno was an update on the downtown stadium.
Although the team is still finalizing the lease agreement with the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, the Dynamo are confident they'll be able to push that paperwork aside in the coming months. Construction is already underway on the East End site, as crews work to begin much-needed utility and infrastructure work.
The location of the stadium is what the team is most proud of. To address parking for games, Canetti pointed to existing parking lots that already exist around the area. He also pointed to the fact that the new Metro Light Rail line will stop right in front of the stadium to the north, to make it more accessible. Also planned to the south of the stadium is EaDo Promenade, an eco- and pedestrian-friendly, six-block, mixed-use development.
Through that, the Dynamo hope to possibly mimic the "March to the Match" tradition that Sounders have in Seattle, where a large number of fans meet and march down to stadium right before kickoff.
Leiweke and the team are stern in having shovels in ground before year's end, and hope to open the facility in time for the 2012 MLS regular season.
Also on the Dynamo's agenda is the team's practice facility, located just off of Highway 288. According to Canetti, construction on the site is well underway. The site, which is owned by the city, will have numerous youth and adult soccer fields, and will include a facility that will house the Dynamo locker rooms, as well as a one-of-a-kind sports performance center and a sports rehab center.
The Dynamo have entered into an agreement with one the major hospitals in town to run the facility, but are not yet ready to name said company.
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How the team plans on earning their investment back The Dynamo are paying out of pocket for majority of the stadium; and like any smart business, they intend to get their money back and then some. The team announced that they are trolling for a suitable company to buy the naming rights to the stadium. The Dynamo are aware that their recent performance -- or lack thereof -- hinders their attempt at finding a max bidder.
Therefore, in a spend-money-to-get-money approach, the Dynamo are looking to bring in a new Designated Player. This time though, Leiweke wants the team to push the envelope and bring in a big-name DP, not another Luis Angel Landin. Leiweke would like to open the new crib with a team that fans would be proud of, similar to the Red Bulls in New York.
"I am a big fan of what the Red Bulls have done. I think that [Thierry] Henry with Juan Pablo [Angel] and [Rafael] Marquez is brilliant, and they have captured the attention of that marketplace," Leiweke said. "Their stadium is phenomenal, and I would love it if Chris and [Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear] could be in a situation where they could recreate that atmosphere here with a player as significant as those guys."
Leiweke and the Dynamo have bold plans for the team and the sport in the near future. His goal is to make Houston the premier destination in MLS. "I happen to think [Houston] may be the best market in Major League Soccer."