The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority approved a 30-year contract with the Houston Dynamo. Under this contract, Houston Dynamo will pay $65,000 a year to lease a stadium to which both the City and the County have pledged to pay $10 million each. I have serious problems with this contract on many levels:
First, have we not learned anything from the red light camera contract fiasco?? Voters decided to ban the cameras, and now we might have to pay millions of dollars because everyone neglected to tell us that we still have a contract with the camera manufacturers for several more years. Silly me, I thought officials would use this situation as a lesson and learn that signing long-term contracts, without clauses about a discontinuation if voted down on the ballot, is not smart!
Second, even if officials didn’t learn their lesson about signing long-term contracts, you would think they would have the business sense to realize that a 30-year contract means that they can’t renegotiate the terms for 30 YEARS! $65,000 a year from Houston Dynamo sounds good now, but what if that starts looking bad on year 3? What if fights break out, and we have to hire more police for the area? Who is going to pay for this?
Third, there is still no word on which buildings will actually have to pay the new Renew Houston monthly taxes. If the stadium falls under this new tax, who foots the bill? The City could potentially have to pay itself (into a separate fund) a monthly tax. If they do, they really should have considered increasing the lease because it will be a hefty amount. They should really take that into consideration when renewing the lease…. Oh wait… I guess they can’t do anything for 30 years.
Finally, I am not completely against Houston and Harris County paying a little bit of money to aid in the infrastructure around an area that will make them some money in the long run. It is yet to been seen, however, if many people will actually go downtown to watch soccer games. At the end of the day, the Houston Dynamo will pay much more money than the City and County combined (Houston Dynamo pledged $76 million to build the stadium plus the cost to lease it yearly). So this deal doesn’t sound as horrible as it could be for Houstonians, but this is not the year to contribute $10 million to a risky project. Remember the deficit we have in Houston? If we weren’t paying for the stadium, that money could go towards HPD, who has recently been forced to slash more than $15 million because of our deficit. Chief Charles McClelland has been forced to institute a hiring freeze, delay two cadet classes, and cut overtime for officers. Chief McClelland has been doing a great job in his new position as Chief of Police, and these cuts are not his fault. He is doing the best he can with what they are given, but wouldn’t it be nice to give them a little more?