Refitting the Astrodome into a giant multi-purpose venue was to coincide with Houston hosting the Super Bowl in 2017. But the $217 million dollar price tag on a bond measure was not appealing to Harris County voters, since it meant an increase in property taxes.
David Bush is with Preservation Houston.
“Obviously, it was a disappointment after all the work we’d put over the last couple of months trying to educate people on the plan, and what it meant, not just for the Dome but for Houston economically. So it was obviously a disappointment.”
He says the defeat was hard to swallow, since many other bond elections in cities around Houston and statewide passed.
“What we found was a lot of people didn’t really connect the fact that if it is demolished, they’re still gonna have to pay for the demolition with tax dollars. That it’s not just magically going to happen. There is still going to be expense involved with the Dome, and that re-using it was a better option for the tax dollars than pending it for demolition.”
Beth Wiedower with the Houston office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation was also disappointed in the outcome of the bond measure vote. She thinks voters may have been confused about the ballot wording that presented an “all or nothing” question.
“To me, it seemed more likely that the voters were confused about the question or the implications of this vote. I think it’s less about the cultural impact or significance of the Astrodome. Everyone we spoke to talked about their memories and their experiences at the Dome, and expressed a real desire to keep it.”
She says the quirky Dome Mobile that was used to promote the new vision for the iconic structure, has now been dismantled, but won’t be forgotten.
“Unfortunately, the story wall which had thousands of names and memories and calls to preserve the Astrodome, will itself be preserved. So, we’re working with a local repository that will hold that story wall, so we’ll be able to record the process that we’ve been through the last couple of weeks.”
Like the bond referendum, the final decision on what to do with the Dome will be up to Harris County Commissioners.