An Agreement to Agree
by: Pat Hernandez, April 13, 2010 9:04:00 pm
Harris County Commissioners approved the framework necessary to participate with the City of Houston and make the 95-million dollar professional soccer stadium east of downtown a reality.
David Turkel: "Today's agreement is more of an agreement to agree."
As director of Harris County's community services department, David Turkel is negotiating the deal with the city.
"We've got basic agreement now between the city and the county on all the terms. (Of) course, devil's in the details and we still need to work those out, but I'm confident that the city and the county are going to be able to complete this deal, and Harris County and Houston are fortunate, because we believe that that stadium is going to be the spark plug, that really propels the commercial development of that whole part of the central business district, so everybody benefits."
The new stadium will sit in Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee's district. Pending approval, Lee says the county will put 10-million dollars in tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, and reimburse the City of Houston
for about half of the cost of the land used for Dynamo Stadium.
"There are no ad valor em tax; there are no obligations; there are no indebtedness bored by the county. The TIRZ and the Sports Authority who will manage the project, that's why you see that structure the way it is. It's structured to have a three way joint venture, or inter local agreement."
Barry Klein with the Houston Property Rights Association says he's not sold on the deal.
"We got a chance to vote on the new baseball stadium, a chance to vote on the new basketball stadium, we're not being allowed to vote on the soccer stadium. This is a very bad precedent."
Oliver Luck: "This is a fundamentally different process."
Oliver Luck is president and General Manager of the Houston Dynamo.
"We're bringing a much larger share of private capital to this project. And as you heard today and as you heard last week at city council, I think most of the elected officials believe this is actually a very good deal for the taxpayer. Because we are carrying the bulk of the risk, bringing the bulk of the money to the table and as a result, I think it's important to sort of remind the taxpayers that this is not at all a deal that's similar in any way to what was done with the three other stadiums."
Construction should begin in October for a planned opening in 2012.