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Oliver Luck

They’re still trying to make XFL 2.0 happen

And who knows, maybe it will.

Oliver Luck, the former Oilers quarterback and Dynamo executive who has most recently worked at the NCAA, was named Tuesday as the commissioner of the relaunched XFL that World Wrestling Entertainment will launch in 2020.

Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, was announced as CEO and commissioner of the new eight-team league by WWE chairman Vince McMahon, the league’s founder.

“Football has always been a constant in my life and I’m excited about the unique opportunity to present America’s favorite sport to fans in a new way,” Luck said in a statement from the league. “The XFL will create first-class organizations that local cities across the country will be proud of.”

McMahon he and Luck “share the same vision and passion for reimagining the game of football. His experience as both an athlete and executive will ensure the long-term success of the XFL.”

See here for the background. Among many other things, Luck has served as president of NFL Europe, so he has real experience with this sort of thing. I still have my doubts that they’ll be able to get an eight-team league off the ground and on solid financial footing by 2020, but so far at least this is not an obvious farce. And while I said before that I probably wouldn’t watch a new XFL (as I hadn’t watched the original XFL), I’ve changed my mind. There is a scenario under which I will become an XFL fan, and that’s if they treat their cheerleaders better then the NFL does (not a high bar to clear, as we know). Have the teams hire their cheerleaders as employees, pay them a fair salary, institute real anti-harassmemt policies, don’t put ridiculous rules on them and only them about fraternizing with players, and I’m in. What do you say, Oliver? The Press and Texas Monthly have more.

“There’s no such thing as a project like this without public money”

Dynamo President Oliver Luck throws a little cold water on the claims that a Westpark Stadium could be built exclusively with private funding.

“We have not been presented a plan by the Midway Companies,” Luck said. “I can’t say whether there’s ‘no public money’ involved.

“We (the Dynamo) won’t talk to the city or county about this deal — we have pushed that responsibility to Midway. We know what our conditions are, and basically, it’s replicating the financial structure of the downtown deal. That’s sort of a threshhold question. If they can do that, we’ll go ahead. If they can’t, it won’t happen.”

[…]

Midway recently completed a major mixed-use development in the Memorial area, City Centre, where there is a TIRZ — a tax increment reinvestment zone — in place with the city of Houston, that reinvests some property taxes into infrastructure improvements to help spur development.

Sources familiar with the Midway proposal say it is relying on extending a similar TIRZ in the Uptown/Galleria area, which ends at Highway 59, to encompass the Midway property south of Westpark.

That was news to John Breeding, who serves as executive director of both the Uptown TIRZ and Uptown Development Authority, who said neither agency is involved and is waiting to hear more.

Which comes around, again, to Oliver Luck, who knows a thing or two about stadiums from his four years as CEO of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority. “There’s always infrastructure involved, public services that need to be provided,” he said. “There’s no such thing as a project like this without public money.”

Well, yeah. As I’ve said all along, it’s a matter of how much money the city and maybe the county would have to invest to make this happen, and whether or not that would wind up being less than what the East End stadium would require. Until there’s a real proposal on the table, we can’t make that evaluation. In the meantime, claims about “private financing” just distort the picture.

It should also be noted that the East End stadium deal is much farther along, and really just needs buy in from County Commissioners El Franco Lee and Sylvia Garcia. That deal could be completed quickly if they signed off on it. Residents in the area, who are facing the prospect that the city might view the location as suitable for a new jail facility if the stadium deal falls through, are pushing for it to get done. There’s no organized opposition to the East End proposal, while the Westpark concept would have to overcome pushback from Bellaire Mayor Cindy Siegel and possibly others. The bottom line is that if any stadium deal happens, the East End is still the heavy favorite to be the choice. David Ortez has more.

Finally, on a related note, freshman Bellaire City Council Member Corbett Parker, who has expressed support for the Westpark location and who is a friend of Oliver Luck, explains his relationship with Luck and the Dynamo.

Dynamo Stadium funding almost secured

Another step forward for Dynamo Stadium.

Dynamo ownership has all but secured all of the financing needed for the construction of an $80-million soccer stadium just east of downtown and plans to break ground on the project as early as this fall.

“We have some I’s to dot and t’s to cross, but things are looking very favorable,” Dynamo president Oliver Luck said Tuesday. “It’s not a done deal, but the principal points have been agreed upon.”

Dynamo co-owners Anschutz Entertainment Group, Brener International and boxer/promoter Oscar De La Hoya have secured financing totalling about $20 million on behalf of the City of Houston and Harris County through Spanish bank BBVA/Compass.

The development clears the way for city council and commissioner’s court to put the stadium item on their respective agendas.

Both government entities have committed tax increment reinvestment zone revenue streams to the project provided the Dynamo could find a bank to provide financing up front, Luck said.

“We spent about three months talking to banks,” Luck said. “Given the economic climate, finding a bank was a challenge, so we are appreciative of BBVA/Compass.”

Dynamo ownership has pledged $55-60 million in private funding for the proposed 20,000 capacity facility stadium to be located near the intersection of Texas and Dowling, just east of downtown and U.S. 59.

KHOU has more.

[The Stadium] will seat 21,000 fans and will have around 35 suites.

The Dynamo say they hope to keep the average ticket price under $20.

Construction will begin in the fall and is expected to take about 18 months.

That would enable them to be in place for the 2011 season. If they’re really lucky, there will be a functioning light rail line with stops right in front by then. That may have to wait till 2012, however.

There are still hurdles to overcome – the money isn’t in hand yet, and the whole thing still needs Council approval and the TIRZ funding from Commissioners Court – but those pieces will likely fall into place. Of course, I thought things would be settled a year ago, so don’t go counting any chickens just yet.

UPDATE: Today’s version of this story indicates that Commissioners Court is still an obstacle.

Commissioner El Franco Lee, whose Precinct 1 would house most of the stadium, said no agreement is in place.

“There is nothing that I’m about to put on the agenda at all,” Lee said. “There’s nothing happening on that.”

[…]

Most of the stadium — to be located near the corner of Texas and Dowling, just east of downtown and U.S. 59 — falls in Lee’s precinct, while a smaller portion is in [Commissioner Sylvia] Garcia’s precinct.

Mark Seegers, a spokesman for Garcia, said a number of issues remain to be resolved, particularly involving the availability of affordable tickets for low-income families.

“Nothing is imminent in terms of this item appearing before Commissioners Court,” Seegers said.

These things can turn around quickly, but it’s clear the Dynamo still have their work cut out for them.