Astrodome Conservancy to ask public for ideas on what to do with 8th Wonder of the World

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Fifty-five years after it first opened to the public as the 8th Wonder of the World, the Astrodome now sits stripped and empty, used only as a warehouse.

"It is primarily used as a storage facility for the tenants and the county at NRG Park," said Beth Wiedower Jackson, the executive director for the Astrodome Conservancy.

She says it cannot be torn down because it has national and state historic protections.

Harris County, which owns the dome, pays around $400,000 a year for maintenance and insurance, less than .10% of the county's $5 billion budget.

Former Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was the original proponent to reinvent the dome.

But his plan for parking and a convention center, passed by Harris County Commissioners for $105 million in 2016, will likely never come to fruition.

"County Judge Hidalgo has said that the plan Commissioners had approved and had funded prior to her leadership is not palatable for her. If I recall, her concerns were that the building wouldn't meet its highest use," said Jackson.

Leaders are now re-thinking what's next.

"I think we need to harness that same energy that created the Astrodome to begin with to rethink what the Astrodome should be in the 21st Century," said Harris Co. Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. "I don't think its time is up, quite honestly."

The Conservancy is launching a public engagement campaign.

"Previous plans have been a product of Commissioners Court or Harris County government. We are really excited to engage with the public now," said Jackson.

They will ask all Harris County citizens to offer ideas, opinions and wishes.

"What do you want to do in there? What do you want to see? What would it take for you to visit? How often would you like to visit? Would you take your guests when they come to town?" said Jackson.

What's next for this Dome is now up to you.

You can start by taking a survey on the Astrodome Conservancy website. A virtual public meeting will be held on June 10.

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