J Kent Friedman, chairman of the board of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority
Following the unanimous vote by the sports authority board, everyone went to the site of the new Dynamo soccer stadium on the east end of downtown. Authority Chairman J Kent Friedman said the stadium will help revitalize the area with jobs and business opportunities, without issuing any bonds or incurring any public debt. He adds the agreement protects the city should anything happen to major league soccer.
"The taxpayers are never on the hook for anything here. The lease has lots of provisions to protect the community in that regard."
Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti says groundbreaking should happen quickly.
"It's a very tight construction. We're looking at 15-16 months, and it's being expedited two months from a normal stadium construction of this size, so we're under a very tight timeline. The next fews weeks are going to be very critical in terms of what we can get done to get to that groundbreaking in January."
Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti
The Dynamo will spend about 76-million dollars on the construction and maintenance of the stadium. Terms of the agreement include a 30 year lease that the team will pay the Sports Authority 65-thousand dollars a year. Canetti says having a stadium to call your own makes good economic sense.
"We're gonna have the opportunity to sell naming rights, suites, clubs, new revenue streams. Currently, we get a very small share of concessions and parking, we're gonna have a much bigger share of that. We're going to be able to control our costs. There are so many things that make sense about having your own stadium, and we're going to do everything we can to grow our business by doing it."
The city and county contributed the land for the stadium and have each pledged 10-million dollars toward infrastructure costs. It will be located in Houston city CM James Rodriguez's district. He says he's anxious to see the item posted on the council agenda for a vote.
"This is a great day for the city of Houston and Harris County. You know, when we purchased the land a few months back, it was a unanimous vote. So there's strong support in council, and I look forward to working with Mayor Parker and my colleagues to get this passed and move to the next phase which is groundbreaking."
Houston City Councilmember James Rodriguez
The news came on the heels of the announcement that the United States will not be hosting the world cup in 2022, but Rodriguez says it makes completion of the soccer stadium even more important.
"Because this is gonna put soccer on the map in the city of Houston and around the country, and to show that we have a great fan base here and a wonderful team and facilities to host these type of events. So hopefully we'll be in the running again soon, but having a stadium will only make our chances a lot better to receive another world cup."
Construction is expected to be completed in time for the 2012 soccer season.