Dynamo Downtown Dinghy: All Aboard, Quick!

The giant inflatable-boat-like structure shown here afloat in an otherwise-empty East Downtown six-pack superblock is the latest rendition of . . . the new Houston Dynamo soccer stadium! The Houston Chronicle‘s Bernardo Fallas has details:

The Dynamo want to have the roughly $85 million, 22,000-seat stadium ready for opening day 2011. They envision an all-round two-level, all-seater venue with 34 suites, 86 concession point-of-sales, a 3,000 square-foot club level and a party deck on the southeast corner.

Loving that subtle “soccer fans on a life raft” imagery? It gets better: The open-air stadium’s playing surface will be a full story underground!


Plans also call for at least one canopy (west stands) and a stage (permanent or removable) on the south end. The field would be 13 feet below street level. The first seating level would be set on concrete, with aluminum for the upper level.

For it to be ready on schedule, work on the 16- to 18-month project would have to start no later than this fall.

That’s pretty soon, so you likely won’t have to wait long to hear whether this project will sink or swim. Fallas reports that the MLS team has already secured funding from BBVA Compass Bank to cover the expected $20 million in tax breaks the Dynamo hopes to receive by joining the East Downtown TIRZ. The city appears ready to sign off on an agreement, but there’s been no movement yet from county commissioners.

Rendering: ICON Venue Group

20 Comment

  • Suwoooop!!

  • The announcement of this last year allowed us to sell some property in the east end very quickly. The very day we listed the property they made the announcement of this location. Within two days, we had a full price, as-is offer and closed in 90 days.

    Thanks Dynamo!

  • Part of the stadium being underground is nothing. The other two sporting venues in downtown already to this. The entire first level Minute Maid Park is below natural ground. Same with Toyota Center.

  • Can anyone else find the rendering at ICON’s website?

  • How about you not BOLD every sixth word? Very distracting and a bit of overkill on showing your excitement for the new stadium.

    But not to be a total hater… ¬°Viva Dynamo!

  • Chuy B, the bolding is the Swamplot style. It’s not Dynamo-specific. We like it the way it is!

  • kjb434 wrote: “Part of the stadium being underground is nothing. The other two sporting venues in downtown already to this. The entire first level Minute Maid Park is below natural ground. Same with Toyota Center.”

    Not to mention Rice Stadium, which was built around the same time as Stonehenge.

  • YES! little birdie told me the firm previously known as HOKSport ie, Populous is doing this. Icon probably hasn’t updated their website since 2008.
    This stadium is going for the European-style of soccer stadium. The exterior will probably be the teflon fabric similar to what is used at the new Milan stadium. This non-traditional look will give more ammo for the american football loving rednecks to hate soccer.

    I’m ready to order season tickets now.

  • As a current Dynamo season ticket holder, I’m pleased to see these plans moving forward, and also pleased to NOT see a bunch of negative comments so far regarding this post. The stadium deal isn’t done yet, in fact I don’t see what part of the situation has changed to prompt this article in the Chronicle. The scary thing for those of us who enjoy having a soccer team in Houston is that if we can’t get this thing built, we will likely lose the team. I’ve enjoyed seeing coverage of this on Swamplot, because it is interesting to hear informed (most of the time) opinions on the real estate deals involved. Thanks for caring! *tear*

    And JC – don’t wait until next year to get those season tickets, there are still 10 or so home games left and you can even get a mini-pack!! *shameless plug face*

  • If Oliver Luck and Co. pull off a sports stadium in Houston that is not trying to look like it was built in the 19thC (the pathetic Minute Maid) or a suburban shopping mall (the embarrassing Toyota Center), but actually looks like it was built in the 21C, and in a town called “Space City”, I may finally stop being disgusted when I hear the names HCH Sports Authority or Oliver Luck.

  • I don’t mind the “canned retro” look of Minute Maid. No one is fooled by such a pastiche, nor is there any attempt to fool anyone. It does seem like we built it that way just because everyone else does, which is kind of lame. But it’s not bad.
    That said, I agree with you about the Dynamo stadium. If we’re going to build another stadium, I think we should definitely get a cutting-edge stadium. Like the “birds nest” stadium for the Olympics (http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z120/irulsastra/beijingarchitecture.jpg) or the Allianz Arena (http://www.zanzig.com/download/photos/yh9r13365.jpg). Let’s have an eye-popping signature piece of architecture.

  • I quite like Minute Maid. An attempt was made to keep the theme found in the existing Union Station building. The railroad station theme is throughout the building to pay homage to previous use of the site. At the street level along Crawford and Texas the stadium work with the neighborhood quite well. I find it much better than say the Ranger’s ballpark in Arlington which utilized similar stylings, but completely out of place in the suburban neighborhood.

    The Toyota Center to me is working with the modern theme of the nearby hotel and convention center. That area of downtown has little that left from the past architecturally, so it seem there wasn’t much that the arena needed to compliment.

    The modern European style shown in the graphic above would be neat in the east area of downtown. Most new soccer stadiums in Europe are completely at odds with the surround neighborhood and provide dramatic contrast.

  • I love Minute Maid Park.

  • kjb434,

    ” An attempt was made to keep the theme found in the existing Union Station building. The railroad station theme is throughout the building to pay homage to previous use of the site.”

    Therein lies my biggest objection. County officials refused to allow the design of the park to actually INCLUDE a real station. Metro was planning the light rail at the time, and it would have been smart, not to mention obvious, to rebuild a real Union Station at the park. Wouldn’t it make sense to be able to actually take the train to Minute Maid, instead of just having a rail “theme”? When the other rail lines are completed, thousands of fans could leave their cars at home and not get gouged paying for parking. Now with the expanded convention center, Discovery Green, and a soccer stadium, Union Station in that area would be perfect. The same mindless thought process precluded rail from being included in the Katy Freeway expansion.

    So instead of having a great ballpark integrated with Union Station, we have an ugly as sin ball park with a fake choo-choo on top.

    Also, why the faux retro building? Why not a design to match “our” time. It’s not 1928. Minute Maid is a great park to watch baseball in, I just hate looking at it.

  • John,
    If they went with a modern styling like Toyota Center or Reliant stadium, you may not have liked it anyway.

    Also, no one in their right mind would want to work with METRO on scheduling anything. Several co-workers of mine are working on the University Line engineering and have nothing but jokes about the ineptness of METRO staff. They are the epitome of how not run something and waste money. Harris County Sports Authority was wise in not working with them.

  • kjb434,

    I spent many years working for the city and the worst people to deal with were at the county, definitely related to the commissioners “fiefdom” mentality. Working with Metro was a piece of cake comparatively. We all have our own experiences, I guess.

    Regarding, modern styling: Toyota and Reliant are both awful. The new Dallas Cowboys stadium is what Reliant should have been, except that as usual the county cut every corner and cheaped-out. Reliant would be awesome if not for the bargain basement (and 19thC)roof retraction engineering. Those girders and trusses are butt-ugly. The new Cowboys stadium and many other contemporary (not necessarily Modern) stadiums around the world have elegant, sophisticated solutions that Reliant could have used. BTW, I am most definitely not a Cowboys fan.

    As a way of comparison, do you think anyone outside of Texas could recognize Reliant, Minute Maid, or the Toyota Center? Yet people around the world could and do recognize the Astrodome, even today. It was a design and engineering marvel. Why do we settle for less today? These buildings will be around for 50-plus years, they should be special, not mediocre. If Dallas, Barcelona, Beijing, New York, etc. can do it, why not Houston?

  • And who pays for this one??

  • John, I agree about the County Commissioners, but the Harris County engineering, public infrastructure department, toll road authority, and flood control district are different story. The City of Houston can’t match any of these agencies.

  • Mark D –

    The Dynamo ownership pays $60M of the $80M. City has contributed the land, $15M, but don’t think its been given outright, likely leased to the team. City agrees to contribute $10M through participation in TIRZ 15. If County votes to do so, it will also contribute $10M. The TIRZ money is paid back over time.

    So, ultimately, the team pays for the stadium, as it should be.

    Vamos naranja!

  • Dude! They can totally flood it and have boat wars.
    Like Rome.