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Harris County Continues to Ponder the Astrodome’s Future

The future of the Dome depends almost entirely on private investors.

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When Harris County first opened Reliant Stadium, the plan for the Astrodome was to turn it into a hotel. That plan fell through due to lack of financing.

Last year, the plan was to use taxpayer money to turn the Dome into a multi-purpose event and entertainment facility. Voters rejected that idea.

Now, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the hope is that some federal and state historic designations will generate enough tax credits to make the Dome attractive to private investors.

“Ideally we’re looking for private opportunities. And these tax credits may be the trigger that puts it over the edge. We just have to wait and see,” Emmett said. “As for the Super Bowl, it’s coming in 2017 and the county will do whatever we need to do to make sure the Dome is not an eyesore.”

The question of what to do with the Astrodome was the topic on Houston Matters.

Edgar Colon is the chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation. He says the challenge is finding the right purpose for the historic structure that will fit in with the other buildings in the Reliant complex and that won’t violate contractual obligations with the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure if we are able to repurpose the Astrodome, that it be in a way that is going to be a good building that will complement the other buildings and that is going to be sustainable and able to generate the business that we would like to bring to Harris County,” Colon said.

The Astrodome opened in 1965 and was the world’s first domed and air conditioned stadium. Although it’s in disrepair, Emmett says he thinks it would be wrong to simply tear it down.

“Structurally it is incredibly sound. Hurricane Ike came through and it was the only building out there that didn’t suffer any damage at all. You have 350 thousand square feet of column-free space that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. It would be a shame not to make use of it,” Emmett said.

Emmett says ultimately Harris County Commissioners will make a decision on what to do with the Astrodome, and he promises that decision will come as soon as possible. He did not say exactly how soon that could be.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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