Tag Archives: Save the Astrodome

Funding Model Emerges For the Astrodome

If there’s one thing Harris County voters made clear in 2013, it was this… we don’t want to spend public money to save the Astrodome.  And of course “we” meaning a clear majority of Harris County voters who bothered to show up for the 2013 elections.


While many around town saw the election result as a clear mandate to tear down the historic structure, at least one person was not ready to throw in the towel.  Thankfully for Houston and Texas, that one person is Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.  After spending months to develop a bold vision for the nearly doomed Dome’s future, the Judge and Harris County Commissioner’s Court are now ready to reveal the most critical part of the plan… funding.

Here’s the report from Gabrielle Banks of the Houston Chronicle

A few months ago Ed Emmett had a breakthrough moment about how to save the Astrodome, a goal he’s been chipping away at for the better part of eight years. The Harris County judge was driving out of the county administration building lot headed straight for the historic 1910 courthouse in downtown, and he thought, “There’s a building we completely re-purposed without bond money.”

Meanwhile, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation was mulling over a 38-page report by the Urban Land Institute outlining details for transforming the Astrodome into an indoor park with 1,200 parking spaces underneath it. What remained unclear was how to fund it.

And that’s where Emmett’s idea comes in. His plan has now become the blueprint for a public-private partnership overseen by a conservancy that would unite the city, county, the sports and convention corporation and other governmental entities with private investors to revive the Astrodome without requiring voter approval. Under the conservancy model, Emmett said, the Dome would earn tax credits, which would help significantly with covering expenses for renovation.



(original photo credit:  the Texas Historical Commission)

So when exactly will the ‘Astrodome Park Conservancy’ or whatever it is to be called come to fruition?  No one is quite sure, but Commissioner’s Court is set to outline more details this week, and hopes to have a firm plan in place by the end of this year.

If this was to ultimately be the venue for saving the Dome, one wonders why we even attempted the “public money” route in the first place.  Maybe Harris County wanted to have more control over the redevelopment process?  But in any case, this is where we are in 2015, and this blogger is thankful that there may finally be a definitive path forward.

Beyond flagship investors like the big corporations one would expect to lead these efforts, let’s hope the Conservancy is also open to some small donation funding models (i.e. “buy a brick” investment).  They may not raise the big bucks, but they do tend to encourage participation from the public, foster promotion and tourism of the site and serve as an educational tool teach the importance of historic preservation.

Looking forward to more details on this, and it’s great to see a funding model finally materialize.  After 50 years of extraordinary history, the world’s first ever domed stadium may still have a bright future ahead.



Here’s hoping.


TLCQ 2013: Endorsements

For those that have asked, here is the full list of Texas Leftist endorsements. If didn’t issue an endorsement in the race Houston City Controller, because I felt that there was a strong case to be made on behalf of both incumbent Ronald Green and challenger Bill Frazer. Green is a Democrat and Frazer is Republican, so that may aide some people as they make their decision. 

Prop 1: FOR 
Prop 2: FOR (Saving the Astrodome) 
Texas Constitutional Amendements 
Props 1, 4 and 6: FOR 
Others: No endorsement
Annise Parker
Houston City Controller
No endosement
Position 1: Stephen Costello
Position 2: David W. Robinson
Position 3: No endorsement
Position 4: C. O. Bradford
Position 5: James S. Horwitz
Houston City Council Districts (A-E, F-K)
A: Brenda Stardig
B: Jerry Davis 
C: Ellen Cohen
D: Assata Richards
E: Dave Martin
F: Al Hoang
G: Oliver Pennington
H: Ed Gonzalez
I:   Robert Gallegos
J:  Mike Laster 
K:  Jerry Davis 
District 1: Zeph Capo
District 2: No endorsement
District 3: Dane D. Cook
District 5: Robert Glaser 
District 7: Neeta Sane 
Houston Independent School District
No endorsements
Pasadena Redistricting Measure

TLCQ 2013: Endorsements- Harris County Bond Election

As the largest county government in the state of Texas, and 3rd largest in the nation, it’s no stretch to assuage that many decisions made within Harris County have nation-wide and sometimes world-wide implications. This is well exhibited among this November’s bond election.

Proposition 1 is for the issuance of $70 million dollars to create a joint Detention Processing Center with the City of Houston. The proposition doesn’t directly raise property taxes at this time, but gives Harris County the flexibility to do so if needed. As our understanding of criminal detention continues to evolve away from locking up as many people as possible, and more to the development of services to help people deal with the issues that lead to certain forms of criminal behavior in the first place, this co-venture of the City and County seems a next logical step. By avoiding redundancy, this will ensure that not only fewer of our future tax dollars are spent to house non-violent offenders, but will allow our law enforcement agencies to do better coordination for the area. Texas Leftist is FOR Harris County Proposition 1.

Proposition 2 for some voters will surely be the “main event”… where we decide if we want to Save the Astrodome. This one ballot initiative is expected to drive some citizens to the polls who wouldn’t normally go as well. Given that it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Texas, and Harris County has created a very practical way for the Dome to utilized in it’s newest stage, Texas Leftist is FOR Harris County Proposition 2. I sincerely hope voters agree.

The Dome: TBD

In the 21st century, indoor sports isn’t that big of a deal in many American cities, or throughout Europe. Millions of attendees take in Soccer, Baseball, American Football or other large sporting events within the confines of an indoor facility where they don’t have to worry about temperature or inclement weather. You go to the game and have a great time.

But 48 years ago, that wasn’t the case. No one had ever thought to hold what most considered an “outdoor sport” like football, and put it indoors. No one did, until Houston did it. On April 9th, 1965 with the President of the United States, the Governor of Texas and a host of other major dignitaries in attendance, the Harris County Domed Stadium–the Astrodome– opened its doors to the general public. And with that opening, the world of professional sports changed. Here’s more from Jere Longman of the New York Times

The Eighth Wonder of the World, as the Astrodome was nicknamed, with its 200-foot-tall roof and nine-acre footprint, became the most important, distinctive and influential stadium ever built in the United States.

It gave us domed, all-purpose stadiums and artificial turf and expansive scoreboards. It gave us seminal respect for women’s sports when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs at tennis in 1973. It gave us the inventor of the end zone dance in 1969, Elmo Wright of the University of Houston. It gave us the first prime-time national television audience for a regular-season college basketball game, with the famed 1968 meeting between Houston and U.C.L.A.

Whether you’re in Houston or New York, passions run high when people discuss the future of the famed Astrodome. The fate of the historic structure will be decided this Fall by Harris County voters, which is why many have turned to some interesting news this week. In the inaugural poll for the 2013 municipal elections, KHOU/KUHF found that 45% of voters surveyed favor the bond issue to save the dome (and raise property taxes to do it), 35% are opposed and 20% are still undecided. By most accounts, this is viewed as good news for supporters of the Astrodome, because they have less people to convince than the other side. Plus with less than one month to go before early voting, there is still no formal opposition to the bond measure.

Which leads to this impressive video released by The New Dome PAC… a political action committee founded specifically to help with the bond measure’s passage. The video finally details the County’s plans for the Dome in a way that even average voters can understand. It’s a big first step in this process. Texas Leftist formally endorses Proposition 2… the plan to save and update the Astrodome. As an exhibition hall, the Astrodome conversion would turn Reliant Park into the largest Convention Facility in the state of Texas, and one of the largest and most interesting in the country. All in all, a good plan.

The Astrodome ‘changed the game’ of the 20th century, but it’s up to Harris County voters to see it live in the 21st century.