Report outlines proposals for Astrodome's future

May 22, 2012 4:10:19 PM PDT
Another controversy is brewing over change in the Bayou City: What's next for the Astrodome?

On Wednesday, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation will hear proposals the could reshape the Eighth Wonder of the World.

We've heard all sorts of suggestions over the years, but the comprehensive study set to be released Wednesday is one that could actually become reality. We have spoken to people who have already seen the secretive report, and they tell us the final decision of what will happen to the dome will be decided by you.

From the outside and the inside, the Astrodome is slowly falling apart. But Houstonians say they want this once headline making icon to shine again.

"I would like for them to utilize it as a stadium again, kind of like how they have events and stuff, 'cause I went there as a kid and it's one of the most amazing things about our city," Houston resident Joe Bradshaw said.

For a while now, Houstonians have seen the three options being considered: tear it down to make green space at the cost of over 100 million, spend a bit more and just keep the Astrodome shell, or go all out and do a full revamp.

However, consultants we have spoken with seem to like the final idea, which we've learned offers a suggestion to build the world's largest planetarium inside the dome, "A Sky as Big as Texas." A convention quality hotel would be built just outside, and the cost would be well above half a billion dollars, which is exactly why a public vote is expected.

"I think everybody now assumes that ultimately the voters are going to have to be given some kind of bond issue to look at and if it passes, it passes and if it doesn't, there is no dome," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said.

Even after Wednesday's presentation, the approval and financing process will take quite a while, so for the Astrodome to really reopen to the public, it could take years.

"As long as it's useful for something, that's be good," another Houstonian told us.

People who have seen the 70-plus page presentation say the biggest challenge was to weigh the measurable price tag of rebuilding the dome versus the un-measurable emotional toll of tearing down a community icon. Which price tag is Houstonians willing to pay?

The full presentation will be made tomorrow afternoon at 3pm. The board can make changes, accept or reject the recommendation. If they accept it, it will then go to commissioners and eventually perhaps the voters.


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