We were all quite excited last week to see an official announcement from the Houston Dynamo concerning the long awaited groundbreaking ceremony for the new stadium. As of Monday morning, the ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, January 29th at 2pm but events in the Harris County Commissioner's Court and the Houston City Council will determine if the event is allowed to proceed.
There is no reason to believe that the two political entities won't sign off on the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 15, a public financing tool that encourages public-private partnerships and is based on increased tax revenue generated by the development of the stadium, but until this final measure is approved, the light can't truly turn green on construction of the stadium.
Given that the team announced the groundbreaking speaks to their confidence in the TIRZ being approved and since all the involved parties have already agreed on it, it really should be a formality. However, when politics are involved, you just never know. I'm not trying to freak anyone out, just being realistic.
The approval of the TIRZ is listed on the agenda for tomorrow's Harris Country Commissioner's Court meeting and the Houston City Council is supposed to consider the measure tomorrow or Wednesday as well. Should there be any issues, the Dynamo could be forced to postpone the ceremony, but I doubt that will happen.
There has also been some news finally leaking out about just what kind of features we can expect in the new stadium. The current plan says the stadium will have 34 Private suites, a Premium Club and a food court. It will be able to host FIFA standard international soccer, football, lacrosse, rugby, and concerts. Field level will be sunk bowl design, so fans will enter at the concourse level (street level), teams will enter the field of play from behind the south goal, with an HDTV scoreboard/screen on the north end of the stadium. I've also heard that the entire stadium will glow orange at night thanks to a lighting system that will be incorporated in to the "skin" of the building.
The Dynamo will "share" the stadium with Texas Southern football during the fall, but Chris Canetti has assured fans on multiple occasions that the football lines will be scrubbed off the field before soccer matches and TSU will not be allowed to paint logos on the field or paint the football end zones. Allowing TSU usage of the field was key to getting political approval for the project but the Dynamo will be able to keep concessions revenue from not just TSU games but any event held at the stadium.
Yeah, I know, football lines boo, but a huge part of this stadium is being a revenue generator for the team, so it's a small price to pay for the improved financial health of the Dynamo franchise.
Hopefully we'll get some new design images and details about the stadium as part of the groundbreaking ceremony. I'll also do my best to report of the votes in the Commissioner's Court and the City Council this week.