The Houston Sports board, http://www.houstonsports.org/, to hear staff recommendations on what to do with the real estate property of the Astrodome site today. The debate whether or not to tear it down or save it from destruction continues today, but as the years of stagnation due to no use start to accumulate, it seems apparent that the old faithful
Dome full of amazing sports memories, the first of it’s kind, and not to mention the 8th wonder of the world at one time, is doomed to be taken down sooner rather than later. Valuable real estate is at stake along with the notion of “out with the old & in with the new” comes to mind. According to Houston Chronicle’s writer, Kiah Collier, www.chron.com, Harris County has said the amount of money it still owes on the Astrodome is about $30 million. As the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. prepares to present a publicly funded redevelopment proposal for the 48-yer old stadium, however, county staff say that outstanding debt is actually less than $6 million. “There is no debt that is mortgaged by the Astrodome itself, so the thing is, they could tear it down today & no one is going to say, ‘We need our $30 million,'” said the county’s Chief Budget Officer Bill Jackson.
The fate of the Dome become clearer Wednesday when sports corporation staff is expected to recommend a redevelopment proposal to the agency’s governing board. If the board approves it, the plan will be presented to Harris County Commissioners Court, http://www.harriscountytx.gov/, for consideration next week.
The sports corporation last week said it had received 19 proposals from private individuals & groups for repurposing the former 8th Wonder of the World. Among them: converting the stadium into a restaurant & retail “tourist mecca,” a business incubator & park, a real estate bonanza deal. If any proposal meets the sport’s corporation’s criteria, then they could be presented to the board. If Commissioners Court OKs any plan, it is assumed taxpayers will be asked to foot at least some portion of the bill, making the question of how much is owed on the decaying structure relevant.
Conclusion for now
The county owes less than $6 million on the decaying structure, on which it spends a $2 million a year for insurance, utilities & upkeep for the enormous real estate property. Come November, the question could be whether taxpayers are willing to approve another bond to save the Dome. Jackson, the county budget chief, said he plans to look for a variety of ways to minimize the price tag of any bond package sent to voters, if that is what happens. He said millions potentially could be generated by naming rights deals, some kind of building use fee & auctioning off various salvaged building parts, including the 60,000 seats. But I believe that Houston voters are tired of hearing about the future of the Dome much less footing part of the bill for it’s continued existence. After all other famous landmarks like old Yankees stadium (NY Yankees & NY Giants), Shea Stadium (NY Mets), Hoosier Dome (Indianapolis Colts), Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals & Reds), Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia Phillies & Eagles), Kingdome (Seattle Seahawks), Mile High Stadium (Denver Broncos), Texas Stadium ( Dallas Cowboys), & the infamous Boston Garden (Boston Celtics & Bruins) all have met their demise. Although it will be a sad day in the history of Houston sports and landmark architecture when the Dome is torn down, progress will continue & change is one definite constant in our lives that we so affectionately call the human race.