Bid to Renovate Astrodome Fails

Categories: Spaced City
Harris County voters rejected a $217 million plan to renovate the aged Astrodome into a convention center, a step that might lead to transforming the "Eighth Wonder of the World" into a parking lot.

With two-thirds of 1,064 precincts counted, 53 percent of the voters opposed the project. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett conceded defeat on the referendum about 9:35 p.m.

The proposal would have transformed the lower levels of the rotting Dome into a multipurpose facility that would host trade shows, conventions and concerts.

Supporters cited "years of carefully reviewing numerous proposals"; those proposals have included transforming the edifice into a movie studio or filling it with an indoor ski slope and/or kayaking river, not to mention a lazier river for guests of a hotel that would have been build inside.

Supporters said the annual tax bill for a $200,000 home with a 20 percent homestead exemption would increase by $8 because of the project.

Some opponents didn't like the specifics of the proposed plan; others balked at the county spending money on what they considered a longshot to succeed financially in the future.

(Us? We just think it's about damn time the Dome's fate is decided, one way or the other -- even if it's this idea.)

Houstonians have long professed a love for the Astrodome, but even this awesome song could not bring about victory.

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Send your story tips to the author, Richard Connelly.

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There is hope.  The Dome is now a recognized historical landmark (as of October 19th) and by December will be eligible for grants (in the millions) for re-purposing and restoration.  There has always been money available from sources such as this however the County never bothered to apply for recognition. So another private citizen, Ted Powell, and I did it for them. County officials are probably still shell shocked that voters turned down their grand plan, but  the County turned down other proposals because they weren't funded, or because they didn't show potential revenue streams, or because they didn't have a sound business plan - - the same requirements that their grand plan didn't have either!  But the worst part to me is that they fully expected voters to approve a plan prepared by the same organization that let the building fall apart in the first place (The Sports & Convention Corp.) - - and they intended to let that same group remain the steward of the New Dome Vision. Unbelievable.

Vince Varkey
Vince Varkey

Spending millions on renovating the Dome doesn't make financial sense. They already have new facilities such as Reliant Center and Reliant Arena that are just sitting there barely being used. There is no value add by converting the Dome into another abandoned convention center that I will have to pay for as a taxpayer. Nostalgia should not get in the way of practical thinking and moving forward.

Noelle A. Perry
Noelle A. Perry

i can't believe we're apparently willing to spend $70mil on the jails, which will COST us money [and won't decrease crime at all] but we're not willing to spend money on renovating a world-famous landmark, which would MAKE us money once it got up and running again. gg, harris county. :/

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