Frisco’s efforts to attract soccer museum get an assist – Dallas Morning News

Frisco has a new sports goal: to become the home for the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum.

No one will confirm whether a deal has been reached. But a sign of progress came Tuesday night with the City Council’s unanimous approval of $39 million in improvements at Toyota Stadium, where the museum would be housed.

Local officials and the Hunt Sports Group entered exclusive negotiations with the U.S. Soccer Federation late last year.

The proposed improvements go well beyond adding exhibit space for the Hall of Fame, though.

Many of the upgrades are designed to better accommodate the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title game, which will be in Frisco in January for the sixth year.

The improvements also will help better serve Frisco ISD games.

Two locker rooms will be built to accommodate 100 players each, along with support staff. The plan calls for separate access tunnels from each locker room onto the field, more concession stands and restrooms, a team store, and better audiovisual technology.

The proposal includes a suite-level expansion and a structured canopy roof over the south end-zone seating.

The stadium’s south entrance could be redone to accommodate the Soccer Hall of Fame.

Mayor Maher Maso sidestepped questions about the Hall of Fame negotiations, but he noted that Tuesday’s vote is significant.

“It’s important to reinvest back in the stadium because of its success,” Maso said.

The 20,500-seat stadium opened in 2005 as part of a public-private partnership between the city and FC Dallas, which operates the complex.

Events have ranged from the NCAA championship to a Jimmy Buffett concert. The adjoining soccer complex, with 17 tournament-size fields, also hosts numerous events.

At a recent Frisco Chamber of Commerce luncheon, FC Dallas president Dan Hunt said 2016 is expected to be the stadium’s biggest year yet.

For example, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team is scheduled to play there three times.

Besides the city’s financing, money for the proposed improvements would come from the Frisco Economic Development Corp., the Frisco Community Development Corp. and Frisco ISD.

The boards for the other entities must still vote on the improvements, which are part of a proposed amendment to the soccer complex lease agreement the council approved Tuesday.

Terms of the agreement call for extending the stadium lease with the city through 2037. FC Dallas will pay $1 million more in rent each year and cover any costs above the $39 million.

A new study commissioned by FC Dallas estimated the complex’s economic impact was more than $80.9 million, supporting 399 jobs and generating $929,781 in local tax revenue.

City Manager George Purefoy noted in a memo to the council that FC Dallas will also look into adding a hotel next to the stadium.

Toyota Stadium would be the latest Frisco sports venue to get an upgrade. About $6 million in improvements were completed this year at Dr Pepper Ballpark in a deal with the Frisco RoughRiders. And the Dr Pepper Arena got about $40 million in improvements in 2009 as part of an agreement involving the city, Frisco ISD and the Dallas Stars.

City Council member Jeff Cheney said the proposed Toyota Stadium improvements would boost tourism numbers and, when combined with the other sports venues, make the city more attractive to companies that are considering relocating.

“It continues to expand our reach across the country,” Cheney said.

The National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum was previously in Oneonta, N.Y., but it closed there in 2010 because of financial difficulties. Now, its collection of more than 80,000 pieces is in storage.

Items include the world’s oldest soccer ball, the North American Soccer League archive, a rare photo collection and artifacts from the American Soccer League of the 1920s and 1950s, according to the federation.

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