Seeing is believing. Over the past few months, as the Houston Dynamo's new downtown stadium has begun to take shape, it is hard not to believe that the venue will be one of the premier soccer facilities in North America.
With steel coming out of the ground – the metal structure of the stadium is nearly complete – imagination is slowing giving way to reality.
Walking around the stadium, one thing that jumps out is how close the fans will be to the pitch. With just eight rows separating the concourse and the field, Dynamo fans will have a view that is unlike anything they have ever seen.
“The way they built it, the fans will be on top of the action,” said Dynamo captain Brian Ching. "From a player’s standpoint, you couldn’t ask for anything better. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to be rocking and I’m excited about it.”
With the interior of the stadium taking shape, the outside is still what draws the attention. Driving down Highway 59, you can see the skeleton of the structure coming together. The roof is taking shape and the steel trusses are in place. The most impressive and unique part of the stadium is starting to take shape as well: the outer “skin.”
“It’s different than any other stadium in Houston and the exterior skin gives it a modern feel,” said Dynamo Stadium general manager Doug Hall. “The fact that it’s breathable and you will be able to see in from the outside makes it unique.”
The “skin” will be placed in different patterns to give the stadium a different look while adding a special touch to Dynamo victories. According to Hall, the skin will glow Dynamo orange after home wins.
“I think it’s fantastic and it’ll help put our footprint on the city,” Ching said, putting the new venue among Houston's other major sporting citadels. “It will become our permanent fixture in the city alongside Toyota Center, Reliant Stadium and Minute Maid Park.”
With construction on schedule, the Dynamo are slated to move into their new home on May 12, 2012. Now, with the stadium visibly taking shape, passers-by can get a good picture of what is to come as the anticipation grows.
“Every time I go there, it gets more and more real,” Ching said. “I’ve been online, watching the live camera, and I’m getting more and more excited about it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.