HOUSTON, TX (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) – According to The Houston Chronicle The City Council voted Wednesday to spend $15.5 million to purchase five downtown blocks for a Houston Dynamo soccer stadium. The council also approved a exchange land to obtain an additional block.
Mayor Bill White will still not confirm or deny that the six-block rectangle definitely would be used for a professional soccer stadium. If a deal with the team owners fails to become a realization, the city could seek other private development for the site, White said.
Anschutz Entertainment Group operates the team but shares ownership with boxing star Oscar De La Hoya and Brener International Group. AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke said last week that he would like to conclude a deal with the city by April 1, or the team will reconsider sites in the suburbs, according to The Houston Chronicle.
Leiweke was out of the country Wednesday, but AEG spokesman Michael Roth said the company was "very pleased" with the council's decision. He offered no other details on the progress of negotiations.
The area has undergone some residential growth. Many residents and bar owners said recently that they looked forward to more financial activity in their vicinity.
White remained firm Wednesday that if the Dynamo want to build a stadium there, public contributions would be minimal and would come from the local Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone.
"We're not in the business of providing most of the money for these facilities as was done with other (arena) venues, with public funds," White said.
The council approved the purchase by a 10-3 vote.
"It will not cost us any police officers or firefighters," Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Garcia said. "We will not put any entertainment in front of public safety."
City Controller Annise Parker has criticized the deal as "backward public policy."
"The city is not in the land speculation business," Parker said. "Council should know for what purpose the land will be used."
The five blocks are owned by various corporate entities controlled by former Councilman Louis Macey.
Councilman Mike Sullivan agreed with Parker, saying his constituents did not want him voting for a land purchase if he did not know its ultimate use.
Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck said she did not think government should play such an active role in economic development. She said the purchase would create a bad precedent.
"This is poor public policy to vote for something that lacks specificity," Clutterbuck said.
Councilwoman Pam Holm also voted against the deal. Council members Jolanda "Jo" Jones and Ron Green were absent. Other council members said the purchase was a good deal at a good price.
"I'm looking at this as a vote for economic development," said Councilwoman Sue Lovell.
The downtown business district has "no other way to grow," Lovell added. "The only way to go is east." According to The Houston Chronicle. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers