Mayor Annise Parker met with Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee this week to discuss how to move the deal forward. The city and the Dynamo are waiting for Harris County to commit $10 million to a tax increment reinvestment zone that would help fund the stadium. So far, that hasn’t happened, but David Terkel, who’s the director of the County’s Community Relations Department, says there’s a reason for that.
“There are a number of City-County projects and this is only one of them and my understanding is that several of the commissioners would like to put a few of them to bed at the same time. I believe that the City and the County are on the same wavelength on all of the bits and pieces of this deal and it’s just taken a while to work them all out.”
The Mayor’s office confirmed the meeting with El Franco Lee, but wouldn’t say what Mayor Parker and Lee talked about. Turkel says in general, there is a spirit of cooperation when it comes to getting an East End stadium deal done.
“My contacts with the folks at the City with this new administration, I think we all feel very positive about the chances for getting this deal done. I can’t tell you when, but I can just tell you that I personally feel good about it.”
The Dynamo and city have explored the idea of a stadium near the Galleria, but it’s clear the East End option is the preferred one for everyone involved. Oliver Luck is the President of the Houston Dynamo.
“I think odds are that this project, if and when it goes through, will go through over in the East End and we think that’s a great spot for the stadium. We’re literally a Brian Ching soccer kick or a Lance Berkman homerun away from Minute Maid Park and I think it’s a good thing to have those two stadiums as well as Toyota Center, which is fairly close by, to have a really cool kind of sports district.”
Right now, the Dynamo, winners of two Major League Soccer Championships, play at Robertson Stadium at the University of Houston. Luck says he’s staying patient and is confident a stadium deal will get done.
“When I think back and realize that the Rockets played over at Hofheinz Pavilion for a number of years, the old Oilers played at Robertson Stadium, then called Jeppesen Stadium before they went over to Rice before the Astrodome was built. So I think it’s appropriate that we follow in the steps of our older brethren and spend our time over at UH and then move into a new building. We would have liked to have had things move more quickly, but I don’t think anyone is really that frustrated.”
Most of the East End land set aside for a soccer stadium is in Commissioner El Franco Lee’s district. A spokesman for Lee says the commissioner is not talking about the deal right now.