Garber: Houston is a "shining example" of soccer's growth

BBVA Compass Stadium to become 12th soccer-specific stadium in MLS

HOU_BBVACompassStadium_Night_Aeriel_Chronicle

Photo Credit: 
James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle

On the eve of opening their new BBVA Compass Stadium, the Houston Dynamo, their fans, and their city have been looking back at the club’s history. Into the seventh season, it’s not a comparatively long history, but if things had been different, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said on Friday, the Dynamo might have been an MLS original.

“This is a great sports town,” Garber said at a press conference here on Friday afternoon. “If we had a sense of a stadium opportunity when the league was founded in 1996, this team would be going into its 17th season.”

The Dynamo franchise relocated to Houston in 2006 from San Jose and saw tremendous success. They won MLS Cup 2006 and 2007, and reached the playoffs in five of their first six seasons in existence.

And despite playing at Robertson Stadium — home of the University of Houston football team — the club was consistently in the top half of the league from an attendance standpoint.

“When we think about markets across the country that we can show how far the sport has come, particularly at the professional level, we can turn to Houston and use it as a shining example,” Garber said. “What was missing – up until [Saturday] – was a soccer-specific stadium.”

BBVA Compass Stadium provides a 13th MLS club with a soccer-specific stadium to call home, and a 14th, the Montreal Impact, are due to move into their new park, Saputo Stadium, next month.

The Dynamo will open their new home against D.C. United on Saturday (3:30 pm CT, NBC Sports Network, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com). It’s taken quite a few years for the stadium to reach this point, Garber admitted, but now that it has, it should pay off in big ways.

“I think that this club has hit on all cylinders,” Garber said. “They’ve been doing well at the gate. They’ve been doing well commercially. They’ve got a vibrant fanbase. [The stadium] will make the Dynamo better and make them more relevant in the community.”