The Houston Dynamo celebrated a landmark event Saturday with the ceremonial ground-breaking of their new downtown soccer-specific stadium. Numerous politicians and club officials played a role in getting the deal done; however, the influence of the fans has not gone unrecognized.
While the supporters were not in the negotiation rooms, fan influence played a significant role in the stadium project. Dynamo defender Eddie Robinson made it a point to attribute this achievement to those fans that have, for the past few years, held rallies and demonstrations to ensure that local government officials knew the fans supported the idea of a new stadium.
“I am convinced that a lot of this came for the urging of the fans,” Robinson said. “I think the fans are so passionate about it.”
[inline_node:327640]“We feel like this is something we’ve been waiting for for the past five years,” said German Sada of Dynamo supporters group El Batallón. “We’ve been organizing rallies here. For us, this is the happiest day of the past five years. Now we got [the stadium] and we can’t wait till 2012.”
The Dynamo have built a reputation for being active in the community, which has helped them build a strong bond with their supporters. Brian Ching’s work with Houston Habitat for Humanity and Brad Davis’ work with military families are just a couple of examples of the volunteer work the players do to help in the community.
Robinson believes it is this that, along with the player’s willingness to take time for the fans, gives the fans the motivation to support the club and stadium.
“I think the fans are passionate about it because, not what we do on the field, but what we do in the community,” said Robinson. “When we see them, we take five minutes and talk to them. Now, they are coming to games, not to see the Dynamo play, but they are coming to see the guys because they have personal relationships with them.”
“Part of a lot of a soccer players' make-up is we are from the community, and it is our duty to give back,” Ching said. “It is part of what we do. We get out in the community and talk to the people, and that is what sets soccer apart from a lot of other major sports.”
The Dynamo are targeting April 2012 as the date the new stadium will open its doors. Partial team owner Oscar De La Hoya is sure the fans will christen the stadium with their usual boisterous attitude.
“I can imagine how the support groups are going to be. The fans wearing orange, the brand new facility – it really is going to be amazing,” said De La Hoya.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.