Jonathan Kaplan / HoustonDynamo.com

Commissioners Court approves stadium deal

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/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.