Harris County leaders tour Astrodome to gauge condition

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County leaders visited the so-called 'Eighth Wonder of the World' as they try to decide what to do with the historic Houston building (KTRK)

The Astrodome may have life yet.

On Friday Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said it would be a colossal mistake to not use the dome and took ABC-13 inside for a tour.

The dome has been cleaned, many of the seats have been removed and sold. Now two questions remain: What are we going to do with it and how do we pay for it?

The current plan to save the dome is to use public and private funds to make it a green space. How much public money?

"Well that's what we are sorting out now," Emmett said.

Two things are certain. It will take money and time.

Time is running out to use the dome as a showcase for Super Bowl 51, which will be played in Houston in February 2017. That's 24 months, away and the county still has not gotten the final proposal from the Urban Land Institute on turning the dome into a giant indoor park. The preliminary report is ambitious.

"Raising it so you provide some parking underneath, that provides some revenue and other uses and then you have the green space at ground level, still be about 9 acres," Emmett said.

Those who toured the dome Friday say saving the building should be a priority.

"Everyone that is in it now thought it was more dilapidated. Once we are in it we are all looking around saying, 'Yeah, they should do something with the inside,'" Houstonian Scott Minchen said.

As for the funding, Houston City Councilman Michael Kubosh sees it this way.

"Whenever there is problems, money can be the easy fix if people come together and give the money, and there are people in the community and investors that should want to invest in this," Kubosh said.

Emmett pointed out that in Germany a giant hangar was turned into a tropical island resort. It cost more than $85 million, and that's not what's in store for the dome. But the green space plan won't be free.
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