Survey: Most Prefer Astrodome Green Space Proposal to Leaving As Is...if Those are the Only Options

The actual Astrodome.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo released a survey it conducted with the help of the University of Houston Hobby Center for Public Policy and Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy regarding how the public feels about the Astrodome. Not surprisingly, a good majority of them know that the Astrodome issue exists and have been paying attention to it. But, in truth, that is about the best information that can be gleaned from the survey because it doesn't really ask all the right questions.

What it does tell us is that a majority of those surveyed actually support the recently proposed initiative by the Texans and rodeo that turns the Astrodome into a wide open green space surrounded by columns taken from the Dome. This is clearly something the parties are pushing for ahead of the 2017 Super Bowl at NRG Stadium.

According to their numbers, 57.1 percent support the idea with only 17.6 percent in opposition. When put up against leaving the Dome as it is and waiting for more options, 64.8 favor the green space option over doing nothing. And to that I say, "Well, duh."

The problem with this survey is that it left off any questions that might challenge the proposal the Rodeo and Texans want, no matter what those options might be. What do people think about reducing the Astrodome to rubble and building a parking garage? What would they say if the iconic Dome roof was kept surrounded by a skeleton of the Dome as proposed by some UH architecture school alumnus (a proposal that has at least the same amount of merit as what the Texans and Rodeo are offering)? What about turning it into a convention center?

All this tells us is that the general public would prefer an open lawn in the middle of a parking lot, next to a giant football stadium, surrounded by what appear to be the ribs of ancient dinosaurs, featuring a tiny Astrodome replica inside to letting the current structure continue to rot from the inside out. What a shock!

For as long as this has been an issue, it has been clear that public would prefer almost anything to doing nothing. The Astrodome is literally our pink elephant in the room. Its corpse is lying there along Kirby with flies buzzing around it and only when the 2017 Super Bowl comes calling is a massive push made to turn it into what -- at least from renderings -- looks like a shrine to the ancient Babylonian god of domed stadiums. I'm a little surprised it doesn't include an eternal flame and a sacrificial altar.

Maybe this is the option people really want. Maybe its not. Until a survey with real alternatives is performed, we'll never know. But my guess is that these results will serve to do nothing more than further the agenda of the Texans and the Rodeo, which was probably the point of doing the survey in the first place.

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The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo riding roughshod on the citizens of Harris County. How apropos.


The columns referred to in the article would NOT be "taken from" the Dome. The Dome cannot be demolished without destroying the columns that are there now. And the size and proportion of the brand new copy columns is different from the originals. That's right, they propose to destroy the originals and replace them with fakes. Which is just kind of nuts. HLSR is attempting to mislead the public and the media about this detail and a number of others, like calling it a green space when they apparently don't plan to plant a single tree. Green painted concrete, maybe. 

Be clear: the two options on this survey question were keep it as is or demolish it. Without evidence to the contrary, I believe it is safe to say that many of those answering the poll question did not understand that they were choosing demolition.

The way to make a green space where the Astrodome sits, is to:

1. Leave the Dome standing, and leave the roof on it.

2. Cut out most of the non-load-bearing walls all around at street level (between the ACTUAL columns and below the cast concrete facade, which should be preserved and CLEANED.)

3. Build a STEEL floor all the way across at street level. (The survey's so-called "green space" option assumes filling with dirt. But the hole CANNOT be filled with dirt. Harris County has studied this and it is not feasible or safe [air quality emergency from thousands of dump trucks, astronomical insurance]. And even if the hole could be filled with dirt, they would have to build a NEW BUILDING on the property to store the material now stored in the basement/field level of the Dome. Everyone who claims to have any sense needs to stop asking for the hole to be filled with dirt. NOT HAPPENING.) HCSCC paid for a study in 2012 that put a cost to build a steel floor at street level at $18 million. The County or Rodeo could do this without a bond election. Just do it already.

4. Remove the inside walls on all eight floors of the concourses (the structure that supports the roof) allowing cross ventilation throughout the building.

5. Make the inside as green as we all want. AND use it for exhibition and event space, tailgate space, cook-off space, carnival ride space... 

Nothing the Rodeo really needs from that nine acres of real estate requires that the roof be removed or the building demolished. By not getting the facts right, The Houston Press and other media are placing barriers in the way of real solutions.

-- Chris Alexander for ASTRODOME*TOMORROW 

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