Houston to Develop Amateur Sports Complex
by: Laurie Johnson, January 24, 2008 12:01:00 am
Houston Mayor Bill White first mentioned his idea for a youth and amateur soccer facility two weeks ago at an unrelated press conference. Since then, his administration has all but finalized a deal to purchase 80 acres of land off of Hwy 288 near Almeda.
"We looked everywhere. So it needed to be accessible. We looked in the west, we looked in the north, we looked in the east and we looked in the south. And this just happened to fit all the criteria and it will be accessible, if people have automobiles or they can use bus transportation, to people from all over the city."
Houston Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck tagged the ordinance that would authorize purchasing the land, saying council needs more time to thoroughly read through the terms of the deal. She was quick to point out she supports the idea, but wants to be fully informed before she votes. Although the item is off the table this week, councilmembers still took the opportunity to praise the mayor's idea. Among them, Councilmember Jolanda Jones.
"Mayor, thank you for trying to find something athletic and active to do for young people. I believe it's extremely important that there be something for youth to do in District D. The truth is a lot of crime is committed by a number of people who live in District D because kids have way too much time on their hands."
The mayor's goal is for the complex to also serve as the practice grounds for the Houston Dynamo. But White says there's no deal with the team yet and it would be premature to say that's how the land will be used.
"We would like to build about an 18 playing field with parking soccer facility. And there may be baseball, there may be other youth and amateur sports over time. It may not all be built at once, we may scale it up. We would like to have partners. And we would highly encourage the Dynamo to locate a practice facility on that land and to pay a fair rental rate."
Mayor White says the Dynamo's involvement will depend largely on whether the city can broker a deal with the team on the construction of a professional soccer stadium and he says they're still in negotiations. Councilmembers will vote on the amateur complex next week and are likely to approve the purchase. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.