On Tuesday morning, the Houston Dynamo and majority owner AEG briefed Houstonians on the progress of the downtown Dynamo stadium project. The club expects to break ground on the stadium between now and then end of the year in order to achieve the anticipated opening for the 2012 Major League Soccer season.
Last week, the Houston Chronicle reported that some of the preliminary work had begun on the site and that the club and AEG were excited for work to get started. The work load on the stadium site should increase once a stadium lease agreement with Harris County and the Houston Sports Authority is finalized and once the remainder of financing for the stadium is secured.
'We are in the midst of negotiations with the Sports Authority and working closely with our banking partners to finalize our agreements,' said, AEG President and CEO Timothy Leiweke. 'Substantial progress has been made over recent weeks, and we are confident that these partnerships will be finalized soon. Our timeline is aggressive, and our focus is clear.'
The Dynamo have hired renowned firm Populous as the project's lead architect, and the bid process is underway for a general contractor. ICON Venue Services, having successfully overseen the development of numerous soccer stadium projects and considered to be the leading organization in its industry, has been hired as project manager.
ICON Venue Group has overseen the development of other MLS stadiums including PPL Park outside of Philadelphia for the Union, Rio Tinto Stadium for Real Salt Lake, Toyota Park for the Chicago Fire, and Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the Colorado Rapids. The group has also been involved in some high-profile international projects like the 02 arena in London.
Populous has a pedigree of success and has previously designed impressive stadium projects including the Kansas City Wizards soccer stadium, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Reliant Stadium here in Houston, Chivas Guadalajara's new stadium in Mexico, and Stamford Bridge and the Emirates Stadium in England.
With the two firms previously working together, fans should expect a productive and expedient partnership. Also, Populous' previous experience in Houston (on Reliant Stadium) should prove valuable when it comes to working with the Sports Authority and other local offices.
'The fact that the project management group and architects are already on the case and that a rapid search for a general contractor is underway further indicates our focus and desire to get this project off the ground quickly,' Dynamo Chief Operating Officer Chris Canetti said. 'We recognize that our fans have been patient throughout this process, and we are focused on doing everything in our power to give our team and our fans a home.'
No one has purchased the naming rights for the stadium yet, but the Dynamo are currently in preliminary discussions with multiple companies and hope to secure a partner by the end of the year.
'These recent developments put us in a much stronger position to forge ahead with our efforts to secure a stadium naming rights partner,' Canetti said. 'There has been significant interest from the local and international corporate communities, and we will now be able to take those discussions to a higher level.'
The stadium will seat approximately 22,000 fans and be the home stadium for the Houston Dynamo and Texas Southern University football, with the opportunity to host other events, including but not limited to international soccer matches, United States national team matches, the NCAA College Cup, high school soccer matches, and high school football playoff games in addition to concerts, other championship sporting events, and special events.
If you are interested in Dynamo season tickets for the new stadium it should be known that current season ticket holders will have priority in purchasing season tickets for the new stadium. The priority will be determined by a season ticket holder's consecutive tenure with the team, and all season ticket holders in 2011 will establish a priority ahead of new season ticket holders in 2012. So, get in line now or pick up some tickets for the 2011 season to get priority.
Check back here for more information as work on the stadium site and stadium progresses. We hope to bring you some exclusive content on both the stadium design as well as periodic updates on the construction of the stadium.