Saturday, January 10, 2009

MLS Stadium Delays

As Dynamo fans, and MLS followers, know that back in 2005 it was the stadium issue that drove the then San Jose Earthquakes to Houston, Texas where they became the Houston Dynamo. Well 2009 is upon us, and still, no soccer specific stadium in Houston.

The goal for the Dynamo has been the construction of a soccer specific stadium in or near downtown Houston. A step towards that goal did occur last February when the City of Houston agreed to spend $15 million for the purchase land on the east end of Downtown, just east of Highway 59, the freeway that has views of Minute Maid Park, the George R. Brown Convention Center, and the Toyota Center on its western side. The location is a throwback to my high school days since my old hang-out, The Axiom, is within a stone's throw of the potential stadium location.

But, it's almost a year later and still no stadium deal in place.

In the last half of 2008, the City of Houston indicated that it could not participate in the building of a stadium for the Dynamo, which will likely total under $100 million (a fraction of what the Texan's Reliant Stadium costs), unless Harris County was willing to chip in $10 million, for infrastructure improvements which this area of the city is in desperate need of even if the stadium is not built. Initially, the members of the Harris County Commissioners Court did not seem interested in participating unless the commissioners whose precincts were at issue were in support of spending the money on the stadium project. Finally, on the eve of Christmas, Commissioners Sylvia Garcia and El Franco Lee stated they were willing to support the County contributing $10 million to the stadium project, but with many strings attached. The initial reports indicated that this issue would come up for a vote at the Commissioner's meeting on January 13, 2009; however, it does not appear on the agenda.

Meanwhile, a Delaware County, Pennsylvania councilman is not inclined to vote for the $30 million in bonds to be used as part of the funding for a stadium for Philadelphia's forthcoming MSL team.

Seems that County Councilman Andy Lewis has been watching the MLS for the past 12 years and is afraid that he's voting on funding a stadium for an NASL squad. Seems Councilman Lewis has caught the prominent virus of the current economic situation - fear, fear, fear, fear, and more fear. It's my opinion, but in this current economic environment, we need our government to move forward in spending on public works and projects that create jobs and related economic opportunities.

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