Another Astrodome proposal

Reliant_Astrodome_in_January_2014

The Houston Chronicle reports that County Judge Ed Emmett (R) has unveiled yet another plan for the Astrodome: turning it into a large indoor park and recreation center. Under Emmett’s vision, the area would have “a large open green for festivals and other community gatherings, general exercise facilities, an amphitheater, a pavilion for music and other events  and special educational facilities for children, even museums.”

The announcement was made at a rather grandiose press conference by the County Judge, and served mainly as an opportunity to provide a vision on the idea, not to work out the details. Emmett freely admitted that he has not run the numbers on what all of this would cost, and from the sounds of it, the total expenditures would likely be pricey. As the astute will surely recall, there was a previous proposal to renovate the Astordome –which has stood vacant for about 10 years– last year. The County Judge and Commissioners approved idea, which would have created $217 Million in bonds to repurpose the dome into a convention center, was shot down by voters in a November referendum. Exit polls heavily insinuated that voters’ key concern was its high cost.

After the referendum boondoggle, many began to think the Astrodome would likely be demolished. A much, much cheaper proposal was floated to demolish the dome and convert it into a park with a small “replica dome” around where home plate once stood. However, progress on demolition came to a grounding halt at the end of last month, when a State Commission indefinitely tabled a designation on the site’s historical status. Needless to say, it’s been a long and grueling ride.

As I stated in one of the previous articles linked to this post, I am still very conflicted on the Astrodome. While I wholeheartedly supported last year’s resolution, the people spoke and rejected spending a significant amount of money to renovate it. I obviously still disagree with their small-minded, senseless and carpetbagger-esque rationale, but there is something to be said for a public servant who follows the desires of his constituents. Emmett spoke today about securing private funds for this project. If there is any modicum of a chance that is possible, I sincerely wish it to happen, but color me skeptical. I have no doubt that if outside funding had previously been a realistic source of revenue, in order to mitigate the damage done to taxpayers, it would have been used for last year’s resolution.

All in all, as you are probably aware by this point, the total and final say on what happens to the dome is with the Commissioner’s Court, which Emmett rules over somewhat firmly. Granted that he’s a shoe-in to stay in his current post until early 2019, two years after we host the Super Bowl, this could prove very interesting. Emmett, for his part, has stated that he will, in no circumstances, be okay with the Astrodome being demolished. County Commissioner El Franco Lee (D-Pct 1), for what it’s worth, was the only Commissioner interviewed by the Chronicle to voice an opinion on today’s proposal. He was cautiously optimistic.

What do you think about the dome proposal?

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3 thoughts on “Another Astrodome proposal

  1. Kudos to the Judge for trying to balance all things relevant to this project – especially the history. I might remind folks it took three bond votes in the early 60’s to get the money to build this project. Rather simplistic to say the voters have spoken. Who looses if we take time. If we rush and tear down, its gone and who exactly profits from that? Take a hard look at who profits if the Dome is demolished and then give an opinion.

  2. Pingback: How about Astrodome Indoor Park? – Off the Kuff

  3. I was born here. Not a carpet-bagger. I have a degree from one of the top universities in these here United States of America. Not small-minded. My wife would probably agree with you that I am quite senseless but I believe myself to be a logical, rational, and reasonable man. That being said, tear the eye sore down. Go with the Rodeo/Texans proposal and do it before the Super Bowl gets here. Emmett’s idea is one on the most ridiculous things I’ve yet heard for the ol’ girl. Horseshoe pits? Archery ranges? Is this some sort of joke?

    Yankee Stadium—Gone
    Boston Garden—Gone
    Tiger Stadium—Gone
    Giants Stadium—Gone
    Mile High—Gone
    Shea Stadium—Gone
    Texas Stadium—Gone

    Among many many others. Why exactly does the Dome still stand? No one else in America considers it iconic. If Yankee Stadium can go down, the Dome can go down. The Rodeo/Texans proposal is cost efficient, honors the history of the building, serves the county constituency and serves the tenants (Texans and HLSR). What is the problem!

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