Wilf Thorne / Houston Dynamo

Stadium to bring world-class acts to Houston

The Houston area has been blessed with an abundance of Grammy-award winning artists that have graced its stages over the past few years. Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, and Jay-Z have all played to sold-out crowds at venues such as Toyota Center, Reliant Arena, and The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands.

Beginning in May 2012, those artists – and many more – will have a new home to perform in when the new Dynamo Stadium opens in downtown Houston. Although the stadium is being built as the home of the Dynamo soccer team and the Texas Southern University football team, it will also serve as a multi-purpose venue, bringing some of the biggest and best events to downtown Houston on a yearly basis.

“Our goal is to do as many concerts in the new stadium as we can,” said Dynamo Stadium general manager Doug Hall. “With the size of the venue that we will have – estimated around 22,000 – the concert season is hit and miss. Some years you have a lot of stadium shows touring and promoters are calling you to book your venue, while other years there are no stadium shows touring and you need to go out and pursue those opportunities.”

Regardless of whether the Dynamo Stadium is taking calls or placing them, the venue is shaping up to be one of the best new stadiums around. Unlike other soccer-specific stadiums where the concert stage serves as an eye-sore to the soccer-attending fans, the Dynamo – along with Manhattan Construction Group, ICON Venue Group, and the architectural firm Populous – were able to design a stadium with a permanent 60-by-80-foot stage that is hidden from the public eye.

“One of the great advantages we will have is that we will have a permanent, built-in stage that for the most part fans won’t really notice because the stage is underneath the seats,” said Hall. “Under the roof on the south end, we will also have rigging capacity to put sound and lights. This setup works to our advantage, because the cost to build a stage with the appropriate sound and lighting could be as much as $100,000.”

Aside from concerts, the new venue will offer Dynamo equity partners Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar de la Hoya another opportunity to showcase some of their top boxers. Matches in the new stadium would be fought outdoors, something not commonly seen in the boxing world.

“To be honest, it is hard to get fights out of Las Vegas and Atlantic City because of their proximity to casinos, but in the last few years with the number of Houston boxers that have been fighting – Juan Diaz and Rocky Juarez, to name a few – there have been quite a few fights in Houston,” said Hall. “We have been in contact with Golden Boy, and we are seeing if we can put something on the calendar for next year. It all comes down to whether or not we can find a matchup that works for all parties.”

Although the stadium is still under construction – the Dynamo expect to open the venue on May 12, 2012 – Hall hopes to begin booking concerts by the end of this year. Once the venue does open, Hall will be tasked with keeping the event calendar full, while still maintaining a playable surface for the Dynamo.

“It’s always a balancing act whenever you have natural grass,” he said. “Obviously, this is being built for the Dynamo soccer team, so they will always be our first priority. On the other hand, our goal is maximize the number of events we can hold in the stadium. We are working on booking events as we speak. If everything comes together, we would like to have a major announcement before the year is out.”