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Urban Land Institute Proposes Astrodome Plan

A panel of experts assembled by the Urban Land Institute presented an ambitious plan for the Astrodome. It calls for turning what was once called the 8th Wonder of the World into a mixed-use venue. It would include a park, exhibition space and a climate-controlled environment for holding festivals.


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Urban Land Institute panelists reveal their plans for the Astrodome

After spending a week learning as much as it could about the Astrodome, the panel came to a unanimous conclusion: Save it and repurpose it as a climate-controlled place for events that could serve the major tenants at NRG Park.

Urban Land Institute panelist Amy Barrett says the refurbished structure should not only enhance the overall visitor experience of everyone who visits the park, but provide new opportunities for the park’s three major tenants.

"For the Texans, a repurposed Astrodome provides a great space for a “fan zone” and event day entertainment. For the Rodeo, this plan provides an enhanced visitor experience within a sheltered space. For the OTC, a useable Astrodome provides a much needed additional exhibit space for their growing conference, and provides a truly unique experience for all their conference attendees," says Barrett.

The Houston Texans declined to comment, while the Livestock Show and Rodeo says it is withholding a response while it studies the ULI proposal.

California architectural landscaper Todd Mead said it's important that the Dome's future be a civic place; accessible and connected:

"And that's by train, by car, and by bicycle and foot. It needs to be an attractor and a destination, and it's got to be an asset to the current users and tenants of NRG Park. It's got to be functional for everyone, and now the users should include the citizens of the community," says Mead.

The panel did not say how much it would cost to implement its ideas.

But with all its potential, former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy wondered why local leaders have not yet found a use for the Astrodome.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says it's important that whatever is decided, that the tenants be in agreement.

"So at that point, we'll start fleshing out the cost. But under this plan or some form of this plan, we will have an asset that, according to the ULI, will be an attraction not only for the region, but for the whole country and maybe even the world," says Emmett.

A recent poll and a failed referendum indicate that the public does not support spending taxpayer dollars to save the empty stadium.


The panel's recommendations for the Astrodome

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