BBVA Compass Stadium is the 22,000-seat home to the Houston Dynamo and the Houston Dash. It also serves the Texas Southern University football team. The stadium is a public-private partnership with the Houston Dynamo, and later Harris County, that created this $95,500,000 facility on the east side of downtown.
Tom’s role was as the City representative responding to the developer, contractor, design team and City Departments during site preparation, design, construction, the first game and finally obtaining a full environmental clearance (“No-Further-Action”) decision by the TCEQ. He was then reporting to the Deputy Director of Planning and Development in the City of Houston’s Public Words Department.
The stadium occupies six city blocks where private property was acquired, streets abandoned and buildings demo’ed.
Site Preparation – Tom’s initial responsibilities was to oversee the site preparation that included:
- Asbestos abatement from the old warehouses that occupied three of the six blocks;
- Demo of the buildings;
- Overhead electrical and telephone lines relocated including a 138-KV distribution line;
- Relocation of underground fiber optic cable;
- Right of way abandonment
- Street closure and communication with the public of alternate routes by eblasts, websites and signage.
- Archaeological Investigation
- Environmental Impact Study Phase 1, Limited Phase 2 and obtaining a Municipal Settings Designation (MSD). This effort was given more attention than a typical site as in the early days of Houston, and continuing for many years, railroad tracks crossed the site and hence the chance of contamination was higher.
Notable aspects of the work are summarized below.
Archaeology – As the site is in one of the oldest areas in Houston, and it is a requirement of state law, a Phase 1 archaeological records search was undertaken. The records indicated residences with privies and that lead to a limited Phase 2–digging out the privies by trenching hoping to find them. One of the trench’s walls showed a distinct level line where the soil transitioned to an undisturbed condition. That location was in the area of a yard of one of the area’s original houses. The archaeologist suspected they found an “undisturbed living surface”. That led to carefully excavating a 40’x40′ area but only a few pottery shards, pieces of bricks and small rusty iron fragments were found.
Environmental issues were always a concern due to the pre-existing railroad tracks as well as the dry cleaners, mechanics shops, and service stations that were recorded on the old maps. The phase 1 environmental site assessment (ESA) led the consultants to recommend a full site investigation and an extensive sampling program in areas where no potential source had existed or contaminate found. We chose to meet the law and tested locations were there were had been a potential source or indications of contamination. The contractor was fully informed of the known site conditions so they could be watchful during the work.
During the excavation “ghost” tanks were found. Tom coordinated the work of the City’s environmental consultant to take samples, expedite results and assist with deciding how to handle the soil. In all cases, the soil was used as backfill under plazas thereby saving cost and not adding to an area landfill.
Relocating fiber optic cables – During the initial excavation a buried fiber optic cable was found in one of the former street ROW. The company rep was found and Tom worked out a temporary routing around the site so excavation could continue.
Tom was the City’s liaison with the design team and the contractor throughout the construction and opening of the stadium. An important moment for Tom was being recognized at the ceremonies before the opening game on May 12, 2012.