The Dynamo Stadium Plan Is Magic

The greatest plan ever has been unveiled.

Using absolutely no public funding, the city, by April 1, 2012, will get a 20,000 seat, $80 million Dynamo soccer/Texas State Southern University football stadium that will create a new section of downtown, which will undoubtedly boom with economic growth, and the problem with homeless people on the east side of downtown will be solved.

At least that's what the city is selling.

First, we should mention that the plan is just a potential plan. Andy Icken, the city's chief development officer, made that point clear during his presentation of these details to the Development and Regulatory Affairs Committee.

The Harris County Sports Authority, the City of Houston and Harris County still have to approve the plan. The Sports Authority has a chance to sign off at its board meeting on Thursday, the City Council votes on it at a March 31 meeting, and the Commissioner's Court will decide for the county on April 13.

But we're betting that the deal goes through.

"Unlike every other sports stadium that has been built here in Houston, this stadium will not be funded by public debt," Icken said. "After they construct that stadium, they will then donate it to the city and the county and it will become a municipal stadium."

How could anything go wrong?

Council member Sue Lovell, who chairs the committee, said the Dynamo stadium -- the site is basically across the freeway from Minute Maid Park and not too far from the Toyota Center -- will be a nice addition to the city's "sports district."

It's actually pretty amazing that any land was even available in the area when the city bought it for $15 million a couple years ago, considering all the development from Minute Maid. Once the soccer stadium is up and running, and the Metro rail comes plowing through on Texas Avenue -- the north side of the new stadium -- we imagine that the old East End will resemble something like the Vegas Strip.

"The most importatnt thing is that it will now move our downtown to the other side of [U.S.] 59 and expand the economic development to this area," Lovell said. "I am so certain this will happen."

See, the plan can't fail.

And there's no need to worry about what happens to the homeless people once all this economic development starts, because the plan creates new funding each year for "homeless initiatives."

"It certainly dedicates the funds over this period of time to deal with an ongoing problem," Icken said.

About the only bad news that was mentioned was that the new stadium will be limited in the type of events it can host, because the Toyota Center has a no-compete clause in its lease agreement that doesn't expire until October 2013. But the stadium will provide a field for all Texas State Southern University home football games.

If the plan goes through, the Dynamo will pay $60 million of the costs with its own private financing, and the city and county will pay the remaining $20 million with future funds from tax zones to upgrade roads and sewers and stuff like that.

The Sports Authority will handle the lease negotiations with the Dynamo, starting on April 15, and it will later be charged with overseeing construction and serving as property manager. The construction, if everything works out, is schedule to start in October of this year.

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Paul Knight
Contact: Paul Knight