President Lyndon Johnson and his wife were on hand for that historical opening game in the Astrodome. Ironically he was supposed to throw out the first pitch, but was late on arrival. Fast forward to 2012 and the stadium once known as the 8th wonder of there world, sits vacant with nothing more than memories.
“I still walk in there and I get impressed by just being in the space and seeing the roof, but she’s been a the long haul, and she’s definitely showing her age.”
Mark Miller is the GM at Reliant Park. He says the Dome costs Harris County upwards of $3 million a year in maintenance fees.
“What we’re doing right now is just maintaining it at a basic level, to keep the building structurally sound in its current condition.”
Tearing it down would cost a hefty $120 million, but Miller says the shell of the aging structure is sound. Several ideas on what to do with it include turning it into a multi-purpose center for science, technology and education, or even a hotel.
The latest idea centers around space exploration. Houston architect Chris Alexander briefly presented his concept to Harris County Commissioners. His plan envisions the ballpark space enclosed in a continuous imaging surface, with floating visitor platforms.
“You walk into the space and its 500 feet by 200 feet of a continuous image of being in outer space, and by the time that this is done, it’s probably all gonna be 3D.”
Alexander admits his idea might seem far fetched, but technology makes it feasible.
“We think all of that just dove tails very easily with the desire to bring in NASA and the private space launch people, and promote space tourism and interest in space. And what we foresee is putting together a package, where they partner with the county, to put mockups of their spacecraft in the Dome and eventually, they should be able to sell tickets in there.”
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says any idea for creating the Astrodome Renaissance will cost upwards of $350 million.
“There are lots of great ideas of what to do with the Astrodome, but all of them require money. And so that’s what we’ve got to hear from consultants. And then we’re gonna have to go back to the voters and say, okay are you willing to tax yourself that amount, to keep the Astrodome, and covert it into this?— whatever this is. And that’s gonna be the question.”
The half-million dollar consultant study on a viable plan for the Astrodome is to be presented to Commissioners later this month. Two ideas for saving the Astrodome can be found on Facebook at A Proposal For Reinventing the Astrodome, or Chris Alexander.