Stadium deal a long time coming

Five-year process expected to lead to January groundbreaking


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Thursday's lease agreement between the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and the Dynamo ends almost five years of discussions and
negotiations, which began almost immediately after the
announcement of the Dynamo’s move from San Jose,
Calif., to Houston on December 16, 2005. The stadium is
expected to open in early 2012 and seat about 22,000 fans.

READ: HCHSA, Dynamo announce stadium agreement

The total project is expected to cost $95 million, with none
of the money coming directly from taxpayers. The city acquired the land for $15
million in early 2008, ceding the land to the Dynamo for the construction
process and to the HCHSA as the long-term landlord. The Dynamo’s ownership
group – AEG, the Brener International Group, and former boxer Oscar De la
Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions – and a contribution from Texas Southern
University, whose football team will also play at the stadium, will provide the
roughly $60 million estimated for construction costs. Tax Increment
Reinvestment Zone 15, a public financing tool to encourage public-private
partnerships which is based on increased tax revenue generated by the
development of the stadium, is expected to provide for infrastructure
improvements around the stadium.

Although the stadium, located across U.S. Highway 59 from Minute Maid Park and the George
R. Brown Convention Center, is
expected to be an economic boon for the East End – generating $163.5 million
and roughly 1,500 jobs in the construction process alone, according to an
independent study conducted by the Economics Research Association – county
participation in the TIRZ had been a major stumbling block for more than a
year, but it was finally approved by Houston City Council on April 7 and Harris
County Commissioners Court on April 13.

Former Dynamo president / general manager Oliver Luck had spearheaded the push for the
stadium, with new president Chris Canetti taking over most of the Dynamo’s
presence in July. The club has hired Populous as the stadium architect, with
Manhattan Construction Group executing the project, and ICON Venue Group
serving as owner’s representative.

The new stadium will seat roughly 22,000 fans. The Dynamo
have drawn almost 1.5 million fans for Major League Soccer and playoff games
over their five years in Houston, an average of 17,924 per game. The stadium is
expected to be the 11th stadium built for Major League Soccer, including one in
Kansas City, Kan., set to open in 2011.

The stadium would be the fourth professional sports venue
built in Houston since construction began on Minute Maid Park in 1997 but the first since the Toyota Center
opened in 2003. Populous was the primary architect or involved with the other
three projects, each of which cost more than $250 million and was financed
mostly by public bond money, according to the Harris County-Houston Sports