There were no empty seats at a capital improvements program meeting at Harris County Commissioners Court.
Edgar Colon is chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation. He formally presented the organization’s plan for the iconic landmark told commissioners the refurbished Astrodome would be the centerpiece of Reliant Park.
“The public plan we recommend for your consideration proposes the following: Transform the Dome into a state-of-the-art, air conditioned facility that offers 350,000 square feet of on-grade, column-free space, with a 175 foot ceiling. The new Dome exterior would be cleared of towers, ticket windows, ramps and berms, creating a 400,000 square foot plaza and acres of green space.”
Colon says the transformation would cost an estimated $194 million and take about 2.5 years to complete.
That cost is something Harris County chief budget officer Bill Jackson told the court he needed to study, in light of all other financial commitments.
“We want to make sure we take care of what we already have. In the last 12 years of the tremendous growth, we had to put a lot of things in deferred maintenance. Things like carpets, air-conditioning systems need to be a priority. Other ones are life-safety issues: elevators and other items that are high priority for us.”
Jack Cagle says he and the other Commissioners voted to send the plan to three other departments in county government: budget, public infrastructure and county attorney.
“Art Storey with Art and Engineering, Bill Jackson with the money, and the county attorney’s office. If you want a study and make a good decision, you send it to the brightest minds to tell them what they think. Then we’ll make a decision after that.”
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says he’d like for voters to consider the funding option, which if passed, would benefit two big events at Reliant Park.
“Timing being everything right now. I think it probably makes more sense if we’re gonna do it, to do sooner rather than later. So, if the plan passes Commissioner’s Court and if the plan is approved by the voters, then we can capture the revenue that would come from the Final Four and the Super Bowl.”
Emmett says he hopes to get a more definitive timeline in about a month.