On Tuesday morning, the fate of the world famous Astrodome in Houston was given the possibility of a second life. A proposal was made that could change the former home of the Astros into a monstrous indoor park.
Harris County (Houston) Judge Ed Emmett revealed his propsosal, that would turn the 49-year old stadium into an indoor park and make it familiar with the world again. During a press conference on the floor of the venue, Emmett unveiled his theory.
It's time to look back to the original concept of the Astrodome, and provide a place for traditional outdoor activities in a climate-controlled space. This is a paid-for asset and before we just toss it on the trash heap, we need to look at what people need in the community.
The Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. has the job of developing the idea and will be working with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Houston Texans. Both the Texans and the Rodeo are tenants of NRG Park, formerly known to the public as Reliant Park.
One thing that is known immediately is that the venue would be open to the public. The only exception to this is when the annual Rodeo would be held at NRG Park or the Offshore Technology Conference. There are also several features that have been discussed as well.
These possibilities include a large green space for festivals and public gatherings, exercise facilities, permanent or temporary sports facilities such as archery ranges and horseshoe pits, an amphitheater for music and entertainment, and museum-like facilities. There would also be spaces for hiking and biking on the stadium's upper levels.
There was no mention of cost estimates or a definitive plan for the funding, although there was a mention of creating private-public partnerships to pay for it. He said there was no way to provide an estimate right now, because that would depend on what would eventually be in the building.
Let me stress again, converting the Dome into the world's largest indoor park is a vision worth pursuing. But in order to realize that vision, we must look to the public sector, the private sector and the general public for that support.
In November, a $217 million bond proposal to renovate the Astrodome was voted down by Harris Country residents. At the time, Emmett said there is no set deadline to determine the fate of the stadium, despite the fact that the 2017 NFL Super Bowl will be held next door at NRG Stadium.
The Astrodome has seen its fair share of huge events through the years. Multiple concerts and entertainment attractions filled the stadium for years, as well being home to the Astros and former NFL franchise Oilers. In 2005, it held over 25,000 New Orleans evacuees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It has essentially sat dormant since then, as no event has been held after the evacuees and the eventual construction of NRG Stadium.