Feasibility Study On Astrodome's Future Coming Soon

It's been the age-old question waiting to be answered: What to do with the world's first multi-purpose domed sports stadium.

You've heard the suggestions, from a hotel to a movie studiom, to a space themed amusement, and entertainment complex — just to name a few.

It costs about $3 million dollars a year to maintain the facility, but it would cost an estimated $120 million to demolish.

The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation commissioned a half million dollar study to provide an independent assessment of Reliant Park, which includes the future use of the Dome.

The complex off Kirby sits in Harris County commissioner El Franco Lee's precinct.

"I'm not that in a hurry to tear it down. The debt that we have on it persists and will persist, whether we level it or not."

The debt is the cost associated with the multi-million dollar upgrade made to the Dome to try and keep Bud Adams from moving the Oilers to Tennessee. Consultants say there's a history of football stadiums going away, like the Kingdome in Seattle, but they're rarely reconfigured.

Lee is keeping his fingers crossed.

"We still hold out hope that there's someone out in the general public that can step up, whether it be a combination of existing tenants and partners, or educational institutions or aerospace institutions, some mixture and combined effort like that."

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says like Commissioner Lee, he hopes that another use for the Dome can be found.

"Seldom do I speak for my colleagues, but if somebody walked through the door and said, 'Here's $500 million; we're gonna convert the Dome to this, and we're gonna handle all expenses. We want a 99-year lease.' We'd probably go, 'it's yours.'"

But the prospect of that white knight coming to the rescue is slim at best. The next best option will be to see what the consultants recommend.

"What does frustrate me about the Astrodome, people contact me all the time and they say, 'Well, there's this great idea and there's that great idea and why won't you listen?' I don't disagree. They're great ideas, but they don't provide revenue. And if there's no revenue stream to pay for it, then that great idea is going to be funded completely by a bond election."

He adds at this point he's going to be looking for the best great idea that doesn't have high operating costs associated with it. After County Commissioners receive the results of the feasibility study, they'll likely let voters decide the Astrodome's fate as soon as possible.

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