Monday, October 29, 2007

Houston Dynamo downtown stadium deal coming together - MLS stadium update

Back in May, the Houston Dynamo signed a letter of intent with the city to negotiate a stadium deal. The letter called for a deal to be reached by mid-July. Well July is long over and forgotten with no deal reached. However, it now looks like a deal could be worked out by the end of the year as the club is looking at a location just east of downtown (a previous location near the baseball stadium has been ruled out).

The new deal will actual involve two different locations. The first location will be a 22,000-seat, open-air stadium downtown costing $70-80 million while the second location will be a satellite public soccer complex and training facility on the city's south side. To me, this makes the most sense. Put the stadium in a central location that is easily accessed by the city's population and put the bulk of the playing fields further out where the land is cheaper.

No official world on city money has been given, however it looks like AEG (the owner of the Dynamo) will invest over $60 million in this project.

As far as the players, they feel it is about time to get a deal done. Having moved from San Jose because they could not get a stadium, a few players are wondering what is taking so long, including defender Craig Waibel:

"We feel like we're a championship team, and we've won one, and regardless of what happens here in the (playoffs) we've done very well this season, we've had great attendance (average attendance was 15,883 in 2007), we've done everything we were supposed to do.

''We feel a bit frustrated that there hasn't been an announcement, but we understand there's a lot more things to this than just our feelings and our team."

If the Dynamo can end up with a stadium downtown, then the wait really would be worth it, but what about everyone else in MLS? One of the odd events, or non-events of this season has been the lack of stadium news, still things have been moving along. Here is a look at the way the future stadiums look right now:

Chivas USA - There is occasional talk of a possible move from the Home Depot Center, but nothing major has come of it.

DC United - How to sum this one up? There was a lot of movement on building a stadium along the Anacostia River at Poplar Point, however in July talks broke down. United offered to pay for the $150 million stadium, however it wanted '$200 million in city subsidies, including roads, tax incentives and the right to develop additional land.' The city has since put out a call for open proposals on ways to develop the land, some of which will not include a soccer stadium. There has also been talk about building a stadium next to RFK (which would then be torn down) or move the team out of DC (something the owners have said they don't want to do). With nothing set as of yet, it looks like United will play at least through 2009 at RFK.

Kansas City Wizards - Last November, the Wizards saw a $75 million soccer complex voted down by a large margin. Since then, their focus has turned to the site of a mall. The Tax Increment Financing Commission of Kansas City as scheduled a special meeting for 7 Nov. to listen to the proposal for Bannister Mall and its surroundings in south Kansas City. A new stadium would anchor the site and would open in time for the 2010 season. As far as the 2008 season, the team might end up playing at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

New England Revolution - Despite occasional noise concerning a move from the much too big Gillette stadium, there really has not been much of a push to get the Revs a home.

New York Red Bulls - On 19 September 2006, the New York franchise broke ground on a stadium that they hoped would be ready by 2008. However, due to disputes between co-owners Red Bull and AEG, the progress on the site has been minimal at best. At issue is AEG's demand that a stage be included at the site in order to make it more profitable. Needless to say, the stadium will not be ready for 2008 and might not be up and running by 2009.

Real Salt Lake - After a very rocky process, Real got their stadium deal in Sandy and construction has been moving along very nicely. They still seem on pace to open in 2008.

San Jose Earthquakes - The team is still hoping for the city of San Jose to rezone some industrial land so owner Lew Wolff can develop it for residential purposes. He would then take the money made and build a stadium near the airport. The city has yet to move forward on this idea.

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