"Alright ... three, two, one ... let her go!"
The sun spanked those in attendance, but they didn't seem to mind.
It was the ribbon cutting for BBVA Compass Stadium, the 1st soccer specific stadium in Major League Soccer to be built in a city's downtown district.
From left to right: Texas Southern University President John Rudley, Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee, Houston Councilmember James Rodriguez, Houston Dynamo President Chris Canetti, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority Chairman J. Kent Friedman, Houston Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and Houston Congressman Al Green
Chris Canetti is president of the Houston Dynamo, which paid a good portion of the $85 million dollar price tag. He says the stadium is a testament to the popularity of the sport.
"This is the fastest growing sport in the country. We all know it's the world's game, known as football everywhere else. In fact, 650 million people around the world tuned in yesterday to watch Manchester City play Mann United, where the Super Bowl has 167 million viewers. So it gives you the size of the magnitude of this great game around the country."
Houston Mayor Annise Parker called it a truly fine venue that will not only provide a great fan experience, but be a boost to the east end of downtown. The stadium is located in CM James Rodriguez's district:
"Members of the community built this facility, a wonderful job to the minority contractors and engineers that were part of this. We exceeded expectations and I'm honored to have led the charge for this wonderful project."
TSU President Dr. John Rudley
Besides soccer, BBVA Compass Stadium will be the home to the Texas Southern University football team. President Dr. John Rudley says the venue creates the finest home football facility among historically black universities.
"This will be the guiding facility for all future HBCU football stadiums in the SWAC (conference). Our football team went through, the coaches went to the locker rooms last week, and they were so bowled over. I've never seen (them) that quiet before. Coaches are not quiet typically, but they were awed by their facility."
But soccer will be the first sport to be played in less than 2 weeks.
Once again Houston Dynamo president Chris Canetti:
"We don't expect there to be many empty seats in the new stadium, based on the success we've seen so far. We've had a more than 100 percent increase in our season ticket base. We will have more than 12,000 full season tickets holders when our campaign is done, and that rivals a lot of great NHL and NBA teams around the country, to put that in perspective."
The stadium is operated by the Dynamo and leased from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. City and county taxpayers also pitched in for the land and infrastructure improvements. The open air stadium will also host concerts, festivals, high school sports, as well as community and special events.