Thanks to a motion approved at a Houston City Council meeting earlier this month, the latest pro sports team coming to Houston will also be the new kid on the block with the swankiest facility.
Council members voted to approve a measure to put $3.2 million toward a new city-owned sports facility, leasing the facility to the Houston Sabercats pro rugby team afterward.
The facility is reportedly set to include a 3,500-seat stadium, a 760-space parking lot and three practice fields, all expected to be ready for the 2019 season.
Officials say the stadium would be part of the Houston Amateur Sports Park, located on Kirby Drive near Airport Boulevard and State Highway 288 in south Houston, funding for which would come from a 2012 bond issue, reimbursing the team for building the parking lot and adding the utilities.
The Sabercats are one of seven teams to open the inaugural season of Major League Rugby, whose league will include built-in regional rivalries for Houston, with squads in Austin and New Orleans, as well as plans for an expansion team in Dallas next year.
Scratch City’s Sabercats are currently playing exhibition games at Constellation Field in Fort Bend County, home of the Sugar Land Skeeters minor-league baseball team, but the cool cats are looking for a place to play when their regular season starts in April, the same month as the Skeeters are set to begin their season.
As part of the agreement, the Sabercats will engage in community activities to connect with area youth groups, with the team already agreeing to teach 200 hours of free rugby clinics, including rugby camps during the summer, as well as conducting high school rugby matches at the facility.
Houston’s rugby scene is not new, reportedly growing a dedicated fanbase for decades, hosting amateur and semi-professional rugby squads since the 1980s.
For instance, a number of the city’s universities, including the University of Houston, Rice University and the University of St. Thomas, are all home to rugby teams.