Do the Astrodome numbers add up?

Even after spending $217 million of your dollars to re-do the dome, financial projections show the place wouldn't make money
October 22, 2013 8:05:06 AM PDT
Harris County voters are now voting on a $217 million plan to fix the aging Astrodome. The money would be used to remove all the seats, raise the floor to ground level, open up the dome and create what organizers call "the dome experience."

But we're looking at how your money would be used to fix the Astrodome, and whether it all adds up.

Once the dome is re-done two and a half years from now, organizers expect $4 million in revenue every year. But costs will eat up $3.9 million of it.

That's breaking even -- after spending 217,000,000 of your dollars.

For decades, we watched the best of the sports and entertainment world come into our living rooms from the Houston Astrodome. Sports and music and the moments that made Houston -- Houston.

When Houston was Space City, the dome was the deal.

Today, that nostalgia is certainly what the people pushing the $217 million dome renovation want voters to think about. But we wanted to know more about just how it's going to be paid for. It's your money and, from the outside looking in, the numbers just may not add up.

"Right now, the Astrodome is an underperforming asset of the county," Sports Commission Chair Edgar Colon said.

That's an understatement.

It costs you $2 million a year to keep it empty. Inside, the dome is creepy and dirty. The concrete is crumbling. Mold is growing. The basement is flooding.

Something had to be done. Colon tells audiences it will be.

"Three hundred and fifty thousand square feet of air conditioned, column-free space," Colon said.

But who needs that much space?

"We're trying to attract events we don't have now," Colon said.

They sent us their list -- five pages of what appears to be a brainstorming session.

They mention OTC, the NFL Superbowl Fan Experience and NCAA games side-by-side with conventions big and small. Hardware shows, pet shows and the Star Wars convention.

Bowling is mentioned five times.

And this, too: Quidditch World Championship. Seriously, the Harry Potter game. I don't think the people behind a $217 million tax program expected anyone to read this list.

Organizers say they'll start marketing the place once you approve it and use the 30-month construction window to seal deals.

"It will be self-sufficient," colon said.

So long as you in your living room agree to pay off $217 million over the next 30 years.

But maybe making money isn't the top priority. Tuesday at 6pm, we'll talk to two of the Astrodome's most prominent supporters who tell us this plan may not be the last time the dome is re-done.

Find Ted on Facebook at ABC13TedOberg or on Twitter at @tedoberg


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