County approves plan for new Houston stadium

Dynamo must now reach lease agreement with Sports Authority

Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously approved a proposal to
build a downtown stadium for the Dynamo and Texas Southern University
football at their meeting Tuesday morning.

The stadium would be located
on the
east side of downtown, across U.S. Highway 59 from Minute
Maid Park
and the George R. Brown Convention Center.

“This is a
very important day,” said Dynamo president and general manager Oliver Luck.
“This process has been
going on for a number of months, and there is now a framework to go
forward. This is a
great day for folks in the East End, for folks who care about future
development
in the city, for soccer fans and for Dynamo fans.”

Last week,
the Houston City Council unanimously approved the proposal, moving the
vote to
the County Commissioners Court. The next
step for the Dynamo is to sign a lease agreement with the Harris
County-Houston Sports
Authority, which runs Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium, and the Toyota
Center.

“We should
do that relatively quickly,” Luck said. “The
parameters of that arrangement are already in place. We hope to have a
shovel in the ground
sometime this fall, and our goal is to open up the 2012 Dynamo season in
the new
stadium.”

Local homeowners
and community leaders appeared before the court on Tuesday to voice
their opinions on the
new stadium project. Many of the
concerns stem from possible negative consequences the construction
process will
have on the property value of East End home owners.

David Turkel, director of the community services department of Harris County, said that will not happen.

“There are things
that can be done during the development phase,” he said. “With the
county’s support, we can take into
consideration the preservation of the existing neighborhoods.”

The entire
process is estimated to cost $95 million, with the Dynamo taking on the
$60
million of stadium construction, and tax increment reinvestment zones
from the
city and county paying $20 million in infrastructure improvements.

The
City of Houston had already
purchased the land for $15 million and earmarked it for the stadium
project.