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Dynamo Stadium deal being negotiated

We first heard about this last week, and now it’s official: The Houston Dynamo are talking to the city about building a stadium near Minute Maid Park.

The Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Dynamo, would bear the brunt of the 22,000-seat open air facility near Minute Maid Park that would cost between $70 million and $80 million, said Billy Burge, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority chairman.

Although parties involved anticipate a public-private partnership, it is unclear how much the city would contribute toward the construction costs, said Oliver Luck, president and general manager of the Dynamo.

But a substantial part of the public contribution could take the form of providing some parking, making infrastructure improvements and helping the Dynamo obtain a reasonable lease for the land where the stadium would be built, he said.

“The mayor has made it clear that this will work only with a substantial private investment,” Luck said.

The most likely site would be Minute Maid’s parking lot C, a 900-space lot just east of the ballpark and U.S. 59, Burge said. The sports authority leased the lot to the Astros for 30 years as part of the Minute Maid Park deal.

[...]

Mayor Bill White has ruled out using property tax revenues to help finance the stadium, but sales and hotel occupancy taxes might be an option, said Frank Michel, the mayor’s spokesman.

The city and Dynamo are finalizing a letter that would set the terms and topics of their negotiations. The deadline to complete the talks would be mid-July, Michel said.

The sports authority isn’t expected to pay any construction costs and would have little to do with the deal since the Astros have a long-term lease on the land, Burge said.

I do not favor using any public money for this deal. Helping with parking and with getting a decent lease, that’s fine. “Infrastructure improvements”, that depends on what exactly we’re talking about. Using sales and hotel occupancy taxes to help finance the stadium, no way. There was a time when I supported that sort of thing. I have since learned my lesson.

Pam Gardner, the Astros’ president of business operations, said the team is open to a soccer stadium being built on a Minute Maid lot, but would like to know more about how it would affect parking and traffic.

“We welcome more entertainment, arts, sports. All of those things are good for downtown,” she said. “We’d be happy to have more to say once we know what the plan is.”

Watch out for any concessions to the Astros, too. They don’t get a second trip to the public trough.

AEG is focusing on the downtown site after officials in Sugar Land withdrew from talks about building a soccer stadium. The Sugar Land City Council Tuesday night was to consider a partnership with AEG to build a 5,000- to 6,000-seat performing arts center.

Well, at least they’d still be the Houston Dynamo to me. So that’s something.

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