Tag Archives: Houston Astrodome

SAVED? Commissioners’ Court Moves Forward On Astrodome Plan

Last year as Houston’s world-famous Astrodome celebrated its 50th Anniversary, many of the folks in attendance were left to wonder if that celebration would be its last.  Since Harris County voters rejected a 2013 proposal to rehab the structure, many have been watching and waiting for some bad news to come.  Even as Judge Ed Emmett continued to push for solutions and not give up the cause, many have prepared themselves for some inevitably tough news.

Which is why this week’s discussions about a new plan to save the dome seemed equal parts fact and fiction.  Have county leaders really devised a plan that would not only save the historic structure, but do so at less than half the cost of the 2013 plan?? It doesn’t seem possible, but apparently this is what has happened.

Here’s the story from Mihir Zaveri of the Houston Chronicle

Harris County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday morning to move forward with a major renovation project that could keep the Astrodome from being demolished for years to come.

The $10.5 million approved Tuesday is the first piece of a $105 million project that would raise the floor of the Astrodome two levels and put 1,400 parking spaces underneath. County officials believe that would make the Dome suitable for festivals or conferences and usher in potential commercial uses in the more than 550,000 square feet that surrounds the core.

From Judge Emmett, here are more details of the plan, via Ted Oberg of ABC 13

Raise the Astrodome floor 30 feet to ground level, greatly easing vehicular and equipment access.

Install two levels of underground parking beneath the raised floor, adding approximately 1,400 premium parking spaces and additional storage.

Raised floor will create nearly eight acres of secure, column-free and weatherproof open space for use by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Offshore Technology Conference, boat show, auto show and more than 100 festivals and community events that are currently subject to threatening weather and /or parking limitations.

The Astrodome’s upper levels encompass more than 500,000 square feet and will become available for redevelopment for a variety of uses.

The plan saves the iconic Astrodome for future use while converting the building into a revenue-generating asset for the taxpayers of Harris County.

After years of sifting through scores of elaborate solutions, in typical Houston fashion, simplicity seems to have won out in the end.  Best of all, the funding scheme put forth by Commissioner’s Court will not raise taxes, and does not require voter approval.  So basically, the Astrodome will be sticking around for a while.

In the coming weeks and months, this is sure to be a hot topic around Houston, as area voters discuss the merits of the plan.  Supporters of the Dome may find the project underwhelming, while opponents will call it a waste.  But the far greater injustice is what has happened over the years as this incredibly unique has sat idol, collecting dust.  It would be nearly as expensive to tear down, so citizens should be encouraged by what County leaders have offered today.

Look out Houston… we just might save the dome after all.



The ‘Parkstrodome’? Emmett’s New Astrodome Vision

The flaming hot discussion surrounding Houston’s best known and most neglected landmark was re-kindled today, with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett wielding both match and poker.  Speaking from within the world-famous structure, Emmett unveiled his thoughts on how to utilize the site.  Here’s an excerpt from the ‘proposal’…

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced a proposal this afternoon to convert the Harris County Domed Stadium- known worldwide as The Astrodome- into the world’s largest indoor park and recreation center.  Emmett unveiled his proposal from the floor of the Dome, which he described as a realization of Judge Roy Hofheinz’s “vision of the future”.

I believe it is time to put forth a new vision for the future of the Dome.” Emmett said.  “With that in mind, I am suggesting that we explore the concept of creating an indoor park and recreation area inside the Dome for the people of Harris County.”

Kiah Collier of the Houston Chronicle attended Judge Emmet’s press conference, and has a few more details…

Among potential attractions Emmett said he could envision at the domed stadium were 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 Dome also could house permanent or temporary sports facilities, such as an archery range or horseshoe pits, he said.

The term envision here is especially apt, as Judge Emmett offered little in the way of monetary support or statistics for today’s press conference– only that he is exploring the idea with all stakeholders.  Basically, this is nowhere near the level of an actual proposal yet.  We’re still a very long way from creating a ‘Parkstrodome‘ here.

But as ideas go, this one has merit and seems well worth exploration. If Harris County could turn the Astrodome into the world’s largest indoor park, it has potential to become not only a great resource for area citizens, but a fantastic hub for tourists as well.  Still, the eternal question remains… who is willing to pay for it?  Will Houston-area business leaders step up to the plate the way they have done for projects like Discovery Green?    For this latest idea to be feasible, that’s what it’s going to take.

Houston and Harris County have a rare opportunity with the Astrodome.  It’s one of the most well-known structures in the state of Texas, and has enough historical/sentimental significance to justify virtually any public, or semi-public use we could assign to it. Though true that the Dome is currently in a rough state, there is still great potential to create a site worthy of its stature.  Let’s not waste this opportunity.


BREAKING: Houston Texans, Rodeo Plan To Level The Astrodome

For those that were holding on to hope that the historic, iconic and uniquely Houstonian structure could be saved, this secretive deal is certainly a big blow.  Here’s the news via the Houston Chronicle

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the NFL’s Houston Texans have devised a $66 million plan to demolish the vacant Astrodome and turn the site into an outdoor green space that is reminiscent of downtown’s Discovery Green and also pays tribute to the historic stadium.

The project, titled the “Astrodome Hall of Fame,” would be completed in time for the 2017 Super Bowl at NRG Stadium, according to a 37-page proposal obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

The plan is designed to pay tribute to “the Astrodome’s history” and realize its potential as an “outdoor fulcrum” of the South Loop sports complex, according to the plan drawn up by two construction and architecture firms.

After last year’s contentious vote and with the time clock ticking closer to 2017, this news shouldn’t come as a surprise. What should we expect to happen to a building if it remains abandoned for a over a decade without any maintenance or care?

Another interesting point per above… thus far, these plans by the Texans and the Rodeo are not public knowledge were not officially released, but apparently uncovered by Chronicle reporters.  It would be interesting to know how long the organizations would be willing to hold on to them before just taking action, in hopes of avoiding a sustained public outcry.

UPDATE: This proposal has yet to be presented to Harris County Commissioner’s Court.