Dynamo president says team is "getting close" to new stadium

Luck says movement to develop new venue is picking up steam

Houston, it
appears we are closer to a stadium deal.

Four years
after the San Jose Earthquakes relocated to Houston amid concerns that stadium
talks in the Bay Area weren’t as hopeful as expected, the Dynamo on
Tuesday moved one step closer to finalizing a deal for a stadium East of downtown
Houston. 

“We’re
getting close to the proverbial finish line,” Dynamo president Oliver Luck said
Tuesday. “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not the light
from an oncoming train.”

While any
agreement ultimately will need approval, Luck the movement to build a new
stadium will get the decisive signatures. With the Houston
Chronicle
reporting specific dates for each of the various entities beginning
with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority board on Thursday, dates
certain for these approvals offer a definitive step forward opposed to the vague
string of 60-90 day extensions and deadlines that have come and gone.

“Basically,
we needed two big political entities, the city and the county to get involved,”
Luck said. “We came to an agreement in
principle and now we just need to legislatively enact it. It’s not just a fait accompli, but I have all
the confidence in the world that folks will do what they have pledged to each
other to do, so we’re getting close to the finish line.”

To help get
the deal to the finish line, Luck was appreciative of the effort put in by new Houston
Mayor Annise Parker as well as the outgoing mayor.

“Former Mayor
Bill White did a great job of putting the framework together, but [the stadium]
couldn’t get pushed over the finish line” Luck said. “The new mayor came in and, like a lot of big
cities in this economy, the city is faced with several big issues.  She said, though, that this is something
that’s been on the backburner and we’ll make an effort in the first couple of
months to try to resolve it.  And she was
able to do that, and we are very grateful for the work she’s been able to do.”

While the proposed
location in Bellaire and other suburban locations were discussed, Luck has
believed throughout the process that a stadium downtown is critical to the
success of the team and the league with its supporters in Houston.

“The most
important thing was to be ‘major league,’ and that means in our community to be
downtown,” Luck said. “We’ve been able
to see other stadiums and venues [in MLS] and get an idea with what works and
what doesn’t work. We believed in order
for the Dynamo to be successful and in order for MLS and soccer to grow, we
needed to be next to our three big brothers, the Astros, the Texans and the
Rockets. We had various locations that
courted us but we felt we needed to make this work for the long term and that
meant being in the thick of things.”

In the
interim, Houston will continue to play at Robertson Stadium. While the venue has been more than adequate
to serve the Dynamo in the short term, getting control over the additional
streams of revenue from a potential new stadium and having control over the
actual facilities has been an important goal for the club throughout.

 “It’s important like it is to every MLS club
to generate revenue and control the quality,” Luck said. “That’s been one of the biggest issues we
faced playing in a college stadium. Not
only were we not generating revenue, but we couldn’t improve on the quality of
any services, whether it be parking, concessions or restroom facilities.”