SBD/May 11, 2012/Facilities

Houston, Hello: Dynamo Set To Open $95M BBVA Compass Stadium Saturday

The MLS Dynamo Saturday will play their first game at the new 22,000-seat BBVA Compass Stadium, and it is a "home befitting a franchise of the Dynamo's stature," according to Brian Straus of the SPORTING NEWS. The “state-of-the-art, $95 million jewel sits on the eastern edge of downtown Houston, a short walk from the baseball stadium, basketball arena and convention center.” The location offers “accessibility, pregame and postgame diversions and a breathtaking view of the city skyline, while the gauzy silver exterior, the roof and the full bowl of bright orange seats make the stadium almost immediately iconic.” Dynamo President Chris Canetti said, “It can't be just a stadium with seats and a field. It has to convey our story, our history, our tradition. I know we're only five, six years old, but I think we've accomplished in a short time and I want people to come to this building and leave captivated by the Dynamo story” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/10). SI.com’s Tom Dart wrote the wait was “worth the arena’s solid caliber and superb location,” which is “the most urban” of any MLS venue. It is expected that the stadium will “act as a major catalyst to help the ongoing revitalization of the long-neglected East End district.” Meanwhile, MLS' visibility and viability "depend more on the construction of soccer-specific stadiums than simply wooing fading stars from Europe." After the Impact open the renovated Saputo Stadium this summer, only four teams -- the Sounders, Revolution, Earthquakes and DC United -- "will not be playing in stadiums designed with soccer as a top priority” (SI.com, 5/10).

PUTTING IT TO USE: In Houston, Love Patel reported BBVA Compass Stadium will “serve as more than the home for the Dynamo and Texas Southern football.” The venue is scheduled to host an international soccer match between El Salvador and New Zealand in May, USA Rugby vs. Italy in June and a Sugarland concert in August. In addition to 20 Dynamo games and six or seven TSU games, the franchise “plans more international soccer, concerts, high school football, rugby, lacrosse and possibly boxing to bring the total to 40 to 45 events a year.” The Dynamo have “bid for 2013 Gold Cup qualifiers and is working with U.S. men's and women's soccer to bring U.S. international matches to the stadium.” Stadium GM Doug Hall said, “The Dynamo have a great foothold in international soccer events. ... We've taken a run at events that haven't worked out yet, but hopefully that'll happen summer or fall of this year.” Patel noted BBVA Compass Stadium "will face competition, with venues such as Reliant Stadium, Cowboys Stadium and the Cotton Bowl showing interest in the same events” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/7).

LUCK OF THE DRAW: Also in Houston, Jose de Jesus Cruz wrote there is "no denying" Canetti “pushed the project and helped select almost every feature,” but former Dynamo President Oliver Luck is a “major reason Houston has a thriving MLS team set to open the league's first stadium in a major U.S. metropolitan downtown.” Luck, who left the franchise in '10 to become the AD at West Virginia Univ., said, “I take a certain amount of pride and satisfaction in seeing the building there and ready to be used and sold out. It validates the belief that many people had, AEG included, that Houston was going to be a great soccer town.” Dynamo F Brian Ching said, “Oliver gave our franchise instant credibility when he was here. He was the right man for the job. He was involved in the process before, and he gave our organization direction immediately. He knew who to talk to, and he knew how to go about getting us a stadium. A big part of the stadium today is because of his vision and his contacts" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/8).

ON THE RISE: The CHRONICLE's de Jesus Cruz wrote the building boom across MLS is a signal “telling the world that soccer in America is thriving.” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, “These stadiums have been the literal and figurative cornerstone of our league's growth since [late Chiefs Owner] Lamar Hunt built the first one in 1999. Each one establishes our sport and our club as a permanent, important member of the community and allows our games to be presented in the right manner.” de Jesus Cruz noted Red Bull Arena, which opened in '10, and Livestrong Sporting Park are “shining examples of how far the 19-team league has grown since its debut in 1996.” Ching: “When you walk in Red Bull Arena, you really come away with that special feeling. Not only that one, but I think Kansas City's atmosphere is pretty electric, and that stadium is probably one of the best in the league. Those two really kind of blow me away” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/7).
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Facilities, MLS, Houston Dynamo

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