Five years after relocating from San Jose, the Houston Dynamo will finally be able to go forward with plans for a soccer-specific stadium.
On Tuesday, the Houston City Council unanimously approved the Tax Increment Revenue Zone (TIRZ), clearing the final hurdle for the Dynamo to begin construction on their new home. The prospect of building a soccer-specific stadium was a primary reason for the club to relocate to Houston from San Jose in December 2005. More than five years later, the feeling is certainly one of better-late-than-never.
“Obviously, it’s a huge step. We moved six years ago to come down here and get a stadium,” said Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis. “It’s taken a little while, but I’m finally happy to say it’s here.”
The approval for the project took major steps forward in the past year, with the club receiving approval on the site and TIRZ from the Harris County Commissioners' Court. The completion of the political process is “something we’ve worked very hard on,” said Dynamo president of business operations Chris Canetti. “It feels great.”
The Dynamo had faith they would receive approval but postponed a scheduled ground-breaking last Saturday to wait on final word. Tuesday’s vote by the Houston City Council gives the club the official green light to go ahead with the proceedings.
“Obviously, it goes back a number of years, and it has been a major goal for the organization [to build a stadium],” said Canetti. “When the word came through the office that we were given the green light to move forward, the energy level ramped up big-time.”
As a veteran, Davis relishes the thought of finally getting a permanent home, even if it took longer than most expected.
“You can’t do anything about the past, but we are looking forward to this Saturday [when Houston will break ground,] and it is a huge step for this organization,” said Davis. “This is my 10th year in the league, and I have not played in my own stadium, and there are some other guys here in the same shoes. For me, it's fun.”
Despite the later-than-expected groundbreaking, Canetti believes the target opening date of April 2012 is still in the club’s grasp.
“We are still on a tight timeline to get it going in April,” said Canetti. “We are going to break ground ceremoniously on Saturday and get to a real construction start soon thereafter.”
The Dynamo will host the ceremonial groundbreaking at the stadium site Saturday at 2 p.m. local time. The club will have more details about the event in the coming days.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.