Yesterday at a meeting of the Regional Transportation Council, something quite spectacular came out of director Michael Morris’ mouth. You can watch it for yourself. Fast forward to the 4:00 mark of the video for item No. 5. But first let me set this up for you.
Earlier this year, news broke that Roddrick West, son of State Sen. Royce West, was close to signing a deal that would allow him to build soccer fields under I-345. Royce, it should be noted, is very much opposed to tearing down I-345. This soccer field deal would seem to make it much harder to tear down the highway, and all this had been going on without any public debate about it. No matter. Robert Wilonsky at the Morning News said there was nothing to worry about. Everything was on the up and up.
The Texas Scorecard disagrees. That’s the Michael Quinn Sullivan joint, so read this knowing their agenda, but today they posted, for the first time that I’ve seen, Roddrick’s schematic of where he wants to put the fields. Oh, also, as a result of Royce’s run for the U.S. Senate, new information has come to light showing his appetite for conflict of interest (short version: if it makes him richer, he’s hungry for it).
OK. That brings me back to yesterday’s meeting of the Regional Transportation Council. Now you’re ready to appreciate what Morris said. He was asking for (and got) $10 million to $15 million to help spruce up the neighborhood around Uber’s new Deep Ellum headquarters. (And, please, don’t get distracted by news of yet another round of layoffs at Uber.) Morris wants to use the RTC money to do the following: give the first wave of Uber employees transit passes; improve the sidewalks and make bicycle connections; work on the traffic signals; fire up an electric shuttle that will take Uber employees from Deep Ellum to someplace, maybe the Farmers Market; and, finally, to help Roddrick build soccer fields under I-345. Morris’ exact words:
I’m working on the World Cup hopefully coming to our region. This isn’t really all transportation related, and I, at the time, did not know where the city and TxDOT ended up with land under 345, but could use some of that land for soccer or something else so the community is engaged with the upcoming World Cup to help get World Cup to come to the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Pardon? Part of the United States’ bid to get the 2026 World Cup is going to be soccer fields under I-345? Because the community will be engaged? This is so ludicrous that it’s impossible for me to take it at face value.
I checked with Majed Al-Ghafry, the assistant city manager who’s in charge of this from the Dallas side. He says the city is continuing to work with TxDOT, which controls the land under the highway, to work out a deal. To build soccer fields. Under a highway. To help bring us the World Cup.
Totally makes sense.