Harris County Judge Ed Emmett: "All in favor signify by saying aye."
Emmett: "Any opposed? Very good."
Commissioners voted unanimously to give Harris County voters the final say on whether to spend $217 million dollars in taxpayer approved money, to renovate the facility once known as the 8th Wonder of the World. After the vote, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the sales pitch begins:
"For all those who care about the future of the Dome one way of the other, for or against, go forth (chuckle)...this is where it begins. It will be on the ballot. I think it's important to note the hard work that the Sports and Convention Corp put into this."
The plan to convert the Astrodome into what will be called the "New Dome Experience" was recommended by the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation. The is chairman Edgar Colon.
"Very excited, we have done a lot of work over the last several months. Now we are hoping that the voters are going to see the benefits of the project, the importance of the project, and that they are going to vote to allow us to repurpose the Astrodome."
He says once the initial preservation is complete, they would entertain other offers on enhancing the refurbished structure:
"If future potential developers come up with ideas, we would obviously be willing to entertain, so long as they prove their financial capabilities, are respectful of the rights of the current tenants and number three, that they have to meet the master plan of the Sports Corporation."
The plan by the Corporation calls for converting the iconic structure to a modern 35-thousand square foot multi-purpose venue, with open space that could play host to a multitude of sports, exhibitions and community events, including activities of the Houston Livestock Show and Rode. It has Judge Emmett's full backing:
"We've been begging for viable options for the Dome, and a lot of private entities came in and said 'We want to do this or that with the Dome,' but none of them had any money attached to it. So if you're talking about using taxpayer dollars to convert the Dome to anything, we at Commissioner's Court and the Sports and Convention Corporation think this is the best option, using taxpayer dollars."
The measure if passed, itwould cost the average homeowner about $8 dollars a year that would go into effect in 2015. The stadium has been vacant since 2009, when it was deemed unfit for occupancy. If voters pass the measure in November the New Dome Experience would become reality in about 2 1/2 years.