Finally, the Houston Dynamo can start seeing the fruits of their labor. Wednesday marked the beginning of construction on the club’s downtown soccer-specific stadium. It started a process the club has been waiting more than five years to kick off.
Drive by the stadium site today, and it may not look like much is happening, but construction companies are starting the process. Streets are being closed off, material is scheduled to be delivered, and a perimeter is starting to be established. While it may not be exciting, it is the necessary first step in a long process.
“Next week you’ll see dozers out there clearing the land, picking up debris, and getting ready to excavate,” said Dynamo President of Business Operations Chris Canetti.
While fans and observers are eager to see progress, Canetti assures that the early stages are something to get excited about. Like neighboring Minute Maid Park, the Dynamo playing field will sit below ground level. Therefore, before things can go up, construction crews will have to dig out the land for the field.
“It’s going to be a lot of below-ground work at first, laying pipes and getting the land ready,” said Canetti. “It’s likely going to be months, probably the summer, before you start seeing steel coming out of the ground.”
Canetti and the Dynamo will work with ICON Venue Management Group to oversee the construction project. ICON will work directly with the contractors, architects, and the City of Houston to execute construction plans.
“I’m not an expert in the construction business, but we are participants, with ICON, in the project,” said Canetti. “ICON will oversee the project for us, and they’ll deal with [architectural firm] Populous and the contractors and work on day-to-day operations.”
In addition to the start of construction on the downtown stadium, construction on the club’s new practice facility is well underway. Two of the seven fields are ready for use, including the field that will house the Dynamo. Canetti said the Dynamo will be ready to move to the new facility when the club receives city permits in April.
“It’s [head coach Dominic Kinnear’s] decision on whether we move out there, and we’ve had a number of conversations about moving,” said Canetti. “The unfortunate thing is the locker rooms won’t be completed until after the season. But if the field is in the kind of condition we expect, he and the team could elect to move out there.”
While the club could move to its new practice facility this April, Canetti remains confident the stadium will be ready to host the Dynamo's first MLS home game in April 2012.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. You can follow him on twitter @Dynamoexaminer.