SBJ/20100816/This Week's News

Dynamo wraps up details on stadium plans

Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Nearly five years after arriving in Houston from San Jose, the Dynamo is close to having a home stadium of its own.

If all goes as planned, the club will break ground in November on a new stadium near Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston and play its first game at the new venue in 2012. The city and county have approved the project. The club simply needs to complete a lease with the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and finalize private financing for the $80 million stadium development.

“It’s a terrific plan right smack downtown in walking distance from the urban core,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said. “I’m a big believer in the Houston market and am anxiously awaiting breaking ground and their eventual opening.”

The Dynamo, which is co-owned by AEG, Golden Boy Productions and Gabriel Brener, has hired Icon Venue Group to manage the stadium project and Populous to design the stadium. It recently closed a request-for-proposal process for the general contracting job.

Houston’s MLS team will move to its new downtown
home in 2012.

The stadium will have upper and lower bowls that seat 21,000 spectators. It will feature 30 to 35 suites, which will be situated 14 rows above the field. It is expected to be similar in design and feel to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park near Denver, a stadium also designed by Populous.

Wrapping up those details has allowed the club’s front office and AEG Global Partnerships to forge ahead with naming rights and founding partnership sales. The club hasn’t finalized how many founding partnerships it will sell, but it expects to sign eight to 12 partners.

“We’re working with the architect to get out ahead of the development so that the naming and founding partner opportunities are incorporated into the stadium design,” said Shervin Mirhashemi, COO of AEG Global Partnerships. “We’re going to take a lot of what [sales inventory] we have in other stadiums that we know works and mix it with the flavor of the Houston market to create a hybrid opportunity down there.”

The stadium is expected to be a major boost to the Dynamo’s sponsorship revenue. The club has 60 partners and ranks among the top five MLS clubs in sponsorship revenue, but because the team has no stadium assets at its current home, the University of Houston’s Robertson Stadium, most of its sponsorships are small deals that include only club assets. By packaging stadium and team assets together, it hopes to sign fewer partners to larger deals, Dynamo COO Chris Canetti said.

The naming rights and founding partner sales will be handled exclusively by the Dynamo and AEG.

The club is in the marketplace looking for a new jersey partner. Amigo Energy is in the last year of a 2 1/2-year jersey deal worth $1.9 million annually.

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