The investment that is being made to build an East Downtown (EaDo) Soccer Stadium is a winner for Houston. In two years, Houston soccer fans will be able to see their Houston Dynamo play their Major League Soccer counterparts in a new facility that will be accessible for soccer fans whether they live within the Loop or in the suburbs. And the Texas Southern University Tigers will also get a new home to showcase their football team.
The stadium will be constructed near a future light rail stop, which will make it convenient to those who choose to travel by rail. Downtown Houston will continue to grow as a destination for those looking for the best in entertainment and those who are searching for a great place to live.
There is no question that the construction of the stadium will create close to 1,000 jobs. Development of surrounding retail, commercial and residential areas will also add hundreds of part-time, full-time and permanent positions. According to Central Houston Inc., more than 12,300 residential units have been or are being built within a two-mile radius of downtown within the past 10 years. People are finding out that living in downtown Houston has amenities that satisfy their lifestyles.
The Houston Downtown Management District's Web site says that downtown “began its renewal in the mid-1990s, and since then, almost $4 billion of buildings, parks and infrastructure have been completed.” The EaDo stadium is the first major construction project east of U.S. 59 in east downtown, and it will surely usher in the next phase of downtown development across the freeway to the east. EaDo is a vibrant community that stands ready to embrace its new neighbor and the positive commercial and residential development that will follow.
A recent Houston Chronicle article reported that Discovery Green has attracted 1.7 million visitors in its two-year existence, exceeding projections made when it first opened. In its first 10 years of operation, Minute Maid Park has reported 28,168,920 in attendance for Astros games. More than a million visit the Toyota Center annually to attend Rockets and Aeros games and concerts. The newly opened Houston Pavilions, a $170 million mixed–use entertainment, retail and office complex, is also a major downtown attraction. The EaDo Soccer Stadium will draw a minimum of half a million fans to Dynamo matches and TSU Tiger games during its first year of operation in 2012.
Eight years ago we had four downtown hotels with 1,800 rooms. Today we have 15 hotels with close to 5,000 rooms. You have to figure that this increase is due in part to the demand created by nonresidents visiting Houston to take in an Astros series, a Rockets game or a concert at Toyota Center. Now we can add Major League Soccer to the list.
The development that accompanies the construction of a major professional sports venue and a downtown park will allow for the surrounding property values to increase. It will also alleviate our stretched budgets for the city, county and school district with the tax revenue generated from this new venue. That's a winning proposition.
The EaDo Soccer Stadium will be constructed in City Council District I, which I have the honor to represent. When negotiations on finalizing the financing of the venue bogged down, moved at a slow pace or seemed to fall off the “to do” lists of the players involved, I kept pressing the parties not to lose sight of our goal and to remain steadfast in our resolve.
Mayor Annise Parker, along with County Commissioners El Franco Lee and Sylvia Garcia and County Judge Ed Emmett, deserve credit for getting the deal done.
The city of Houston, Harris County and the Harris County–Houston Sports Authority, in consultation with the Houston Dynamo, are now in agreement on how and when to proceed. Oliver Luck, president of the Dynamo, and the entire organization deserve our thanks for their commitment and, more important, for their patience.
We have spent a considerable amount of time inviting input and listening to the concerns of the residents and business owners near the proposed stadium. We have provided information, responded to questions and kept all the stakeholders abreast of our progress every step of the way. We have built critical support throughout the city for a project that will continue to transform East Downtown and showcase a community that values development that enhances quality of life, creates jobs and spurs economic growth. That's a winning goal for all of Houston.