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MLS – Houston Dynamo broke ground for new stadium in 2012 – CONGRATULATIONS

Houston Dynamo break ground on new soccer stadium in downtown Houston

Club to play first game at new home during 2012 season

HOUSTON, TX (Saturday, February 5, 2011) — The Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer broke ground today on their 22,000-seat soccer stadium in downtown Houston’s East End. Dignitaries such as AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke, Dynamo equity partner Oscar de la Hoya, MLS President Mark Abbott, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett participated in the groundbreaking festivities, while Dynamo all-time leading scorer Brian Ching kicked a ceremonial first goal on the stadium site.

 Excavation of the site and construction of the stadium is expected to begin shortly, and the Dynamo hope to play their first game in the new stadium by mid-2012. The stadium is located in downtown Houston, within walking distance of Minute Maid Park, the George R. Brown Convention Center, and the Toyota Center. In addition to soccer games, the new stadium will host Texas Southern University football, concerts, boxing matches, and more.

The stadium will be operated by the Dynamo and leased from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. It is located closer to downtown than any other American stadium built for soccer and will be easily accessible to fans from the entire Houston area.

AEG Facilities, the world’s largest venue manager, will manage the stadium on behalf of the Dynamo. The stadium will be included in AEG Facilities’ worldwide network of more than 100 elite venues across five continents.

Renowned architectural firm Populous designed the stadium, which will be constructed by Houston-based Manhattan Construction and overseen by the ICON Venue Group. Additional companies working on the site are landscape architect Clark Condon, structural engineer Walter P. Moore, and civil engineer WGA, all companies based in Houston.

Tickets for the Dynamo’s new stadium will be offered first to fans holding Dynamo season tickets, which are on sale now at HoustonDynamo.com or by calling (713) 276-7500. Fans with longer consecutive tenure as season ticket holders will have higher priority to choose their seats. Interested parties may also sign up for a waiting list for tickets in the new stadium in 2012 at DynamoStadium.com.

The Dynamo’s 2011 MLS regular season opener is set for Saturday, March 19, against the Philadelphia Union at Robertson Stadium. Tickets are available at HoustonDynamo.com.

The Houston Dynamo are a Major League Soccer club that has won two MLS Cup championships in its first five seasons and represented the United States in international competition four consecutive years from 2007-10. For more information, log on to www.HoustonDynamo.com or call (713) 276-7500.

Thursday’s lease agreement between the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and the Dynamo ends almost five years of discussions and negotiations, which began almost immediately after the announcement of the Dynamo’s move from San Jose, Calif., to Houston on December 16, 2005. The stadium is expected to open in early 2012 and seat about 22,000 fans.

The total project is expected to cost $95 million, with none of the money coming directly from taxpayers. The city acquired the land for $15 million in early 2008, ceding the land to the Dynamo for the construction process and to the HCHSA as the long-term landlord. The Dynamo’s ownership group – AEG, the Brener International Group, and former boxer Oscar De la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions – and a contribution from Texas Southern University, whose football team will also play at the stadium, will provide the roughly $60 million estimated for construction costs. Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 15, a public financing tool to encourage public-private partnerships which is based on increased tax revenue generated by the development of the stadium, is expected to provide for infrastructure improvements around the stadium.

Although the stadium, located across U.S. Highway 59 from Minute Maid Park and the George R. Brown Convention Center, is expected to be an economic boon for the East End – generating $163.5 million and roughly 1,500 jobs in the construction process alone, according to an independent study conducted by the Economics Research Association – county participation in the TIRZ had been a major stumbling block for more than a year, but it was finally approved by Houston City Council on April 7 and Harris County Commissioners Court on April 13.

Former Dynamo president / general manager Oliver Luck had spearheaded the push for the stadium, with new president Chris Canetti taking over most of the Dynamo’s presence in July. The club has hired Populous as the stadium architect, with Manhattan Construction Group executing the project, and ICON Venue Group serving as owner’s representative.

The new stadium will seat roughly 22,000 fans. The Dynamo have drawn almost 1.5 million fans for Major League Soccer and playoff games over their five years in Houston, an average of 17,924 per game. The stadium is expected to be the 11th stadium built for Major League Soccer, including one in Kansas City, Kan., set to open in 2011.

The stadium would be the fourth professional sports venue built in Houston since construction began on Minute Maid Park in 1997 but the first since the Toyota Center opened in 2003. Populous was the primary architect or involved with the other three projects, each of which cost more than $250 million and was financed mostly by public bond money, according to the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority.

The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority has agreed in principle on a lease agreement with the Houston Dynamo for their proposed downtown soccer stadium, it was announced today.

In a Thursday press conference held at the corner of Dowling and Walker streets — the southeast corner of the six-block stadium site — HCHSA chairman Kenny Friedman and Dynamo president Chris Canetti were among the dignitaries celebrating the agreement.

READ: Stadium deal a long time coming

“This is the site of what’s going to be the new Dynamo stadium,” Friedman said to open the press conference. “As you look behind me, you can see the Houston city skyline, and after today we hope to add one more building to this exciting landscape.”

Friedman emphasized that no public taxpayer money was being used to build the facility, which will also host Texas Southern University football, entertainment events, and other sporting events.

“It is the first sports venue that we’re aware of that doesn’t have any public money involved, and we think this is a phenomenal deal for the taxpayers of this community, because it’s not costing the taxpayers anything, and it’s going to be a terrific facility,” Friedman said.

While the lease agreement must be agreed on by the Houston City Council and Harris County Commissioners Court, all parties appear to expect groundbreaking in January.

“We’re hopeful to break ground in January some time, and should we be able to do that, and if construction goes on time, our plan is to open in April of 2012,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti said.

Houston City Council member James Rodriguez, representing District I, was one of the politicians on hand for the event, and he spoke of his excitement over the stadium deal.

“This is a shot in the arm, clearly, for the city and for the East End and for my district,” Rodriguez said. “We’re retaining our MLS team, which has done wonders for our community. They’re a great community asset and community partner. I’m excited about the number of jobs and positive economic development that this facility will bring to our great city.”

The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, which oversaw construction of Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium and the Toyota Center, agreed Thursday to be the landlord for a new downtown professional soccer stadium.

Harris County, Houston and the Dynamo announced this week that they have agreed on a plan for a 20,000-seat stadium just east of U.S. 59. The team will spend $60 million on construction, and the county and city have pledged $10 million each on infrastructure.

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