HOUSTON – The Houston Dynamo hope to start work on their new soccer-specific stadium by the end of the year, AEG president Tim Leiweke said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Tentatively we’ll open the stadium sometime in the early part of the 2012 season, and our hope is the Dynamo will play all of their home games of the 2012 season at the new stadium,” Leiweke told the assembled media.
The team envisions a 22,000-seat facility with club suites on a county-approved parcel of land in downtown Houston just east of Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The Dynamo would share the new venue with Texas Southern University's football team.
The club hopes to utilize the already existing surface lots utilized by the Astros for parking and are hopeful that a METRO light rail expansion will put a stop at the stadium’s north end. However, many of the ultimate design details will have to be ironed out over the next several months.
“It is important that before we get to [naming rights], we get to a definition of what the stadium will be and what it will look like,” said Leiweke. “Naming rights are critical because of the private commitment being made to the stadium project.”
The city and county agreed in April to share the costs of infrastructure improvements to the stadium site and approved the stadium project. But an actual lease agreement with the Dynamo has yet to be finalized with the Harris County Sports Authority, which would serve as landlord over the stadium site.
Both Leiweke and Dynamo chief operating officer Chris Canetti are very confident a deal can be been ironed out.
“Our discussions with the Sports Authority have progressed,” Canetti said. “We still have some ways to go and we are still working on some of the financing pieces that are coming together, but we’re confident that as those pieces come together, we’re working on a parallel path on the development side.”
Leiweke also announced that the club would not seek a senior executive to replace former president Oliver Luck, as Canetti will continue to run the team’s business operations. Luck left the Dynamo in July to become athletic director at his alma mater, West Virginia University.
Dwain Capodice is a contributor to MLSsoccer.com. Questions or Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.