Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Movement on building Dynamo Park (WITH PICTURES!)

The Chronicle's story about the city of Houston starting their purchase of five blocks just east of downtown (not really "five downtown blocks" is it since it's east of US-59?) is really, really good news for anyone who's interested in getting this stadium built. Simply put, without the city owning that land, there's no way the stadium deal gets done in such a great location, so deal with Dynamo in place or not, this is an incredibly positive development.

(The pictures I have run up here before, but it bears running them again. They are of the site in question, six blocks (the city plans to barter for the sixth) bordered by Texas and Walker streets on the north and south, and Hutchins and Dowling streets, just east of U.S. 59.)

But of course, that's not going to stop the Chron's Bernardo Fallas in his blog from trying to get a complaint fest going. In it, he faults AEG for not responding quicker to the news, again blames the company for the slow pace of this stadium deal because they're trying to sell the team and generally makes sure to put the negative spin on things. What is it with that guy? This is not the first time he's done this, so I think a little perspective is once again in order:

1. City buying land on the edge of downtown with the express purpose of turning it eventually into Dynamo Park? Good. Fallas does correctly point out that the city beginning the process of purchasing the land before the stadium deal is done is a sign of Mayor White's commitment. True, and more needs to be made of this. Both Carolyn Feibel's story and Bernardo's blog should play up this angle more. Instead, the story has a headline that talks about a delay, when in fact there is no such thing. The "delay" in the headline refers to the fact that Council will consider the land purchase Wednesday, but probably not have a vote until next week. This is not a delay in any way. This is the way City Council works. Calling it a "delay" is disingenuous at worst and just plain wrong at best.

2. AEG trying to sell the team? Good. What do you want them to do, keep it while focusing all of the attention on that other team they own, the one with Beckham's husband on it? I am all for them selling the team and there's no time like the present.

3. Slow pace of the deal while both are going on at the same time? Welcome to the real world Bernardo. He may think that business deals get done overnight, but in truth, when you're talking about this much money at stake, the pace is glacially slow to say the least. This deal has gone from Nowheresville to the city announcing its intent to spend $15.5 million almost overnight by City of Houston standards. This town never moves faster than this. Never. We knew this was going to happen when AEG brought the team here. There is nothing new here and i both happening at the same time makes the pace go slower, then that's what it does.

4. Major stadium construction negotiations so far without any public acrimony? Unbelievably, almost scarily, good. Bernardo was not here in this city when the negotiations about building the Astros' playpen were going on in the 1990s. That had to go to a referendum, and it passed by this much, though it eventually resulted in Minute Maid Park, Reliant Stadium and the Toyota Center in a series of deals that are nowhere near as beneficial for the city coffers as the Dynamo Park deal figures to be. These negotiations, by contrast, are going slowly (as did the Astros' thing, as we should all remember) but with everyone on the same page and all disagreements, what ones there are, in private. That is, except for what Bernardo is trying to get going on his blog.

I know much has been written about this in the last 24 hours, but I just wanted to add my $.02 as well. There is absolutely nothing, and I mean, nothing in all senses of the word, not to be optimistic about here. Of course, there is still no deal here either, as we would all like for there to be. But patience is more than a virtue here. It is a necessity. My favorite comment so far came from "Chris" on Fallas' blog:

Bernardo, I can't decide which is driving me more crazy. Waiting for the Dynamo to get some help up top to relieve Wondo and Ching or waiting for the Houston City Council and Mayor White to get the Stadium deal done and started. I have friends who sarcastically claim soccer is prt of a conspiracy to make Americans learn patience and delayed gratification since scoring is less frequent than any other sport, but these types of patience testers are getting to me.

Indeed. But if I had to predict, I would say that both the sale and the stadium deal will be done before the end of 2008. I will even go out on a limb and predict by Labor Day both will be finished. If I'm wrong, I'll write a pro FC Dallas post, and for those of you who know me, you know how hard that will be!!

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