A New Dawn in Dynamo Land

Monday, February 07, 2011 | View Comments
- Jason Davis

The Houston Dynamo broke ground on their stadium on Saturday, an event which prompted some wistful stadium-related musings from me in the days prior. In a general sense, things are pretty good for us when it comes to soccer stadiums. Specifically, Houston's new digs (opening in 2012) could very well put that city over the top as the leading soccer town in the country. At the very least, Houston could challenge Seattle or Portland for that title.

Jose de Jesus Ortiz certainly thinks so. The Houston Chronicle soccer scribe penned a glowing assessment of the future of the Dynamo, focusing in particular on the potential of two minority owners to help bridge the gap between MLS and the city's large European and Mexican soccer-focused fan bases. The new stadium also gives each a fresh start in the push to maximize the club's appeal to the city's Mexican-American population.

Over 70,000 folks packed Reliant Stadium to watch El Chicharito and Manchester United against the MLS All-Stars in July. In May, Reliant was also packed when the Mexican national team played Angola.

If the Dynamo could get just half of that El Tri-loving base to embrace MLS, this city would overtake Seattle as the most passionate MLS city in America.

Boxer Oscar De La Hoya has been a peripheral figure in the Dynamo ownership group since buying into the club in 2008. AEG is still the majority owner, and De La Hoya has never had any real influence on the operation. De La Hoya has been content to make a show of loyalty to his new investment at the time of its consummation and not much more. Any idea that De La Hoya's involvement would pay immediate dividends for the Dynamo seems somewhat naive in retrospect. The boxer, with his 25% share of the team, hasn't thus far made a mark in Houston.

De La Hoya promises boxing events (run through his company, Golden Boy Promotions) at the new stadium, something Jesus Ortiz thinks can be spun into a way to get people out to Dynamo matches. Cross-promotion certainly makes sense. Get fans in the door and let the product convince them to come back.

An out-front De La Hoya, something that has yet to happen in his three years of minority ownership, would help. The new stadium won't just be a building better suited to soccer in a better location with better amenities, it will be a chance for the team to announce their presence to a portion of the population that gave them little heed before. De La Hoya's status in the Mexican-American community is an asset the Dynamo can finally use, if he's willing, to its full potential.

I'm not sure if the Dynamo will need De La Hoya's help to fill their new building in the first year or two, but a season of sell-outs shouldn't mean marketing efforts should be neglected. The bigger the Dynamo fan base, the longer-term the team's potential success and better equipped they'll be to weather rough seasons on the field. Rather than bring in another DP of Latino extraction in a bid to attract attention, why not convince someone with an interest in the team to lead that charge?

Jose de Jesus Ortiz is also taken with the Dynamo's other minority owner, Gabriel Brener. I know nothing about him, and cannot remember hearing his name before reading the Chronicle blog post. I'll take Jose's word for it that the head of a private investment firm based in Beverly Hills is capable of pushing the Dynamo to new heights alongside De La Hoya.

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