The Fate of the Astrodome

Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford says his office could present Commissioner’s Court with a lease agreement for redevelopment of the Astrodome in as little as two weeks. Jack Williams reports.

The two current tenants at Reliant Park, the Houston Texans and the Livestock Show and Rodeo, have reviewed a draft lease proposal for the Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation. ARC wants to turn the Dome into a 1300 room hotel and convention center. Now, Stafford’s office will sort through the issues raised during a review of the proposal.

“We’re about finished analyzing the concerns raised by the Rodeo and Texans. The next step is to get together with them and identify whether or not there are different ways to overcome these problems. The final act will be to put it in front of commissioner’s court at a properly called meeting and they vote it up or down.”

The Texans and Livestock Show and Rodeo have expressed serious concerns about a proposed lease and business deal at the Dome. They’re were worried ARC’s project would violate agreements already in place with the county, which owns Reliant Stadium and the Dome. The Livestock Show’s Leroy Shafer says he thinks the issues are fixable.

“From the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s side, I think they’re very solvable. I think a document can definitely be put together. If the things that are in our response letter are addressed, well then I think we’re there. If they’re not, well then there will be issues.”

The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation is working on the Dome deal with ARC. Executive Director Willie Loston says there’s a distinction between the actual business deal and securing a lease.

“As far as the business deal goes, I don’t think there have been any significant changes in that over the last year, but I do think that the draft lease and the responses from the tenants have presented us with a situation where I think the process is moving in a favorable direction.”

Turning the Dome into a hotel could cost upwards of a half-billion dollars. So far, ARC, without a lease agreement, hasn’t been able to secure financing for the project. Don Henderson says ARC is ready to hammer out a lease agreement everyone can support.

“I have always believed this project would happen because quite frankly, it is the best thing for the Astrodome and if we can sit down at a big table and everybody has an open mind and willing to compromise and work out our differences, we can do something really spectacular for Houston.”

Henderson admits finding money to finance the project won’t be easy, but having a lease in place is the first step in the process.