SBJ/Dec. 6-12, 2010/This Week's Issue

Dynamo will operate new training complex

The MLS Houston Dynamo will use and operate a $15 million, 40-acre training complex in southwest Houston whose construction is being funded by the city of Houston.

The complex, called the Houston Amateur Sports Park, will have seven training fields, including one set aside solely for the Dynamo and its academy. It also will have a 45,000-square-foot facility that houses a 5,000-square-foot locker room, a sports performance center and a rehab clinic.

Ground broke on the project in January after the city government allocated $8 million to purchase land and then raised $7 million in bond money to pay for construction, which is being overseen by McShane Construction. On Nov. 9, the city council approved a plan that allows the Dynamo to manage the facility once construction ends in February.

“We’ve established a first-class training grounds for the Dynamo and our academy and created a side business that will hopefully generate a profit and provide a unique marketing platform as well,” said Chris Canetti, president of business operations for the Dynamo. “This is a great opportunity for us.”

The Dynamo will cover the cost of the park’s operation and maintenance, an amount Canetti expects will be roughly $1 million annually. The club also will pay a mid-six-figure sum for the build-out of the locker room. Canetti said the organization would add two staffers to oversee the complex, and the Dynamo will rent field time to local youth and amateur soccer clubs as well as regional tournaments. The club will charge $75 an hour for field use and also will run its annual youth camps at the site.

In return for managing operations, the team retains the right to sell sponsorships and founding partnerships for the complex, excluding naming rights. Canetti said the club has sold founding partnerships to Volkswagen, the local Methodist Hospital system and a third sponsor, which he declined to name.

“These venues are not automatic profit centers and we’ll need to generate thousands of hours of field use over the next year to break even,” Canetti said. “We haven’t advertised [the fields] yet, but already the demand is high.”

The team has used the University of Houston’s athletic grounds as a practice site since the club’s 2006 debut.

The complex is scheduled to open in early spring of 2011, with the performance center opening in the summer. A future build-out, which will add 11 fields and a rest room/pavilion structure, does not yet have a completion date.

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