An hour before every Seattle Sounders soccer game, fans gather three blocks away from the stadium at Occidental Park for music, cheers and tailgating, slowly heading to the stadium entrance as a unified, pumped-up fan bloc.
Starting with the 2012 season, Houston Dynamo fans could incorporate a similar tradition at the debut of the Dynamo's dedicated stadium in EaDo, with plans for a park-like promenade adjacent to the stadium taking shape.
The promenade isn't just an outgrowth of the Dynamo stadium though. It's a project put together by the Sister Cities of Houston and the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association to bring a sense of community to the transitioning EaDo and to honor Houston's connections to the international community.
"This is probably the most important project in neighborhood, aside from the Dynamo Stadium, in bringing in development and people to the area," Jim Olive, vice president of the Houston-Shenzhen Sister City Association, tells CultureMap.
The plan for the promenade spans six blocks of Bastrop Street between Bell and Walker streets. The original idea was a two-block area dedicated to the Houston-Shenzhen connection, but as the concept grew other sister cities expressed an interest in being involved, and the current plan will incorporate all 17 of Houston's global sister cities (check out the complete list here) equally.
"It will be homogenous, not segmented, with a thematic, international look" says Olive, adding that each city will contribute plants, gardens, sculptures or other attractions. Olive says large structures in the promenade aren't in the immediate plans due to the railway structures underground that would be costly to deal with, but that eventually planners hope a multi-use city center develops around the area.
The sixth block adjacent to the stadium is planned as a plaza to "celebrate soccer as an international sport and the sport of our 17 sister cities, and a potential gathering point for fans," Olive says.
Sister Cities of Houston is retaining New York firm Projects for Public Spaces to conceive a final design after getting input from the community about what features are desired and how the neighbors would be affected. PPS were behind the hugely successful design of Discovery Green downtown, with hopes that the Sister Cities Promenade would have the same rejuvenating effect in EaDo.
Sister Cities of Houston hopes to fund the expected $3 million in costs through fundraising and with contributions from the participating cities. The city of Houston officially owns the land, and with a memorandum of understanding, park plans are currently working their way through the legal office.
"The city wants it to happen and the mayor's office wants it to happen," Olive says.
What do you think of the EaDo park plans? What would you want as part of the promenade?