Opposition From Texans and Livestock Show Could Derail Dome Plans

Plans to turn the aging Astrodome into a fancy hotel and convention center have hit a major roadblock. Officials with the Houston Texans and the Livestock Show and Rodeo, the two main tenants at Reliant Park, say they won't support the redevelopment plan, opposition that could derail the entire project. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams has the story.

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In the latest chapter in what has been a somewhat tumultuous story, officials with the Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Texans say plans to turn the Dome into a $450 million hotel and convention center would cause major problems with their operations. The Livestock Show and Rodeo's Leroy Shafer says the revamped Astrodome would create traffic and parking problems and would take business away from the two main tenants.

"This is a major entertainment complex featuring food, featuring amusements, featuring merchandise shops and presentations and quite honestly from what we've seen, the plan for this thing is for thousands of our spectators to go in there and eat and shop and spend money. If they're eating in the food shops inside there or they're buying from the shops inside there, then they're not buying on our grounds."ξ

Officials with the Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation have invested about four years in the plan and say they've secured private investors to help pay for it. They have until January 28th to refine their plans and present them to Harris County Commissioners Court. The Redevelopment Corporation's Don Henderson says opposition from the Livestock Show and Rodeo and Texans doesn't necessarily kill their plans.

"I think when you're trying to do a project of this magnitude almost in any city that you would try to do it, you're going to find some obstacles. You're going to have to overcome some obstacles and objections. I'm convinced that if we all sit down and talk this through, we can figure out a way to make this project happen."ξ

But officials with the Livestock Show and Rodeo say they and the Texans have exclusive lease agreements with Harris County that protect them from competing enterprises that might cut into their bottom line at Reliant Park. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the ultimate decision will be made by Commissioners.

"Clearly the Livestock Show and Rodeo are a huge part of this community and so therefore their opinion carries a great deal of weight. At the same time, they are not the Harris County Commissioners Court and it's ultimately going to be up to the Harris County Commissioners Court to make the decision of what to do with the Astrodome."ξξξξξξξ

Emmett says it's clear the public wants some sort of resolution, but believes most don't want the Dome demolished. Earlier this year, Commissioners Court extended a deadline for the Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation to submit its final plans.

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