HOUSTON – Though it's not a full-fledged stadium, the Houston Dynamo's brand-new practice facility has the club feeling like it's finally establishing roots in Houston.
The Dynamo on Wednesday celebrated the grand opening of the Methodist Champions Field at the Houston Amateur Sports Park, which will serve as the team’s training facility.
Much attention recently has been paid to the development of the Dynamo's soccer-specific stadium, but opening their own practice facility is a welcome step by the players and coaches.
“It’s been a long time coming for me and guys like Brian [Ching] and Brad [Davis] and the guys who have been in the league a while but have never had their own place to train,” veteran defender Eddie Robinson said.
[inline_node:333732]Since coming to Houston, the Dynamo have trained at the Carl Lewis Track and Field complex at the University of Houston, often sharing the facility and their time on the pitch with the school’s athletes. It’s customary when at training to have to watch for sprinters or for the team to put up signs to make sure people didn’t cross the field during training.
The new facility – which will initially include six fields available for public use – will be under the control of the Dynamo organization, which means the club will have a say over the conditions of their training pitch. That's something they did not have at the University of Houston.
Another positive is that the Dynamo will have the ability to train on both a turf and natural-grass field, making preparations for trips to stadiums with field turf easier.
“I think it’s been great since we’ve been here, but there are a few facilities that we need,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “One is a stadium and the other’s a training facility like this. The field is flat; it rolls well. It’s a little soft but we do a good job of maintaining where we play to make sure the field stays in good shape.”
With the stadium slated to open in early 2012, the team is feeling an increased presence as part of the professional sports landscape in Houston.
“Having a place to call your own is nice and adds to the professional feel for the club,” said Ching. “Along with that, I think it could help to bring in DP-type players. We haven’t had that in the past and now with the fantastic place to train, it will help us attract some big-name players.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.