The Houston Astrodome would be torn down to make way for green space and a unique park under a proposal from the NFL's Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The iconic Astrodome, the first covered ballpark in Major League Baseball, has been mostly unoccupied since the Houston Astros moved to Minute Maid Park in 2000. Last year Harris County voters rejected a $217-million bonding proposal that would have turned the venerable stadium, which opened in 1965, into a convention center and more modest sports facility. Since then many of the Astrodome contents were sold at auction, with Harris County officials debating the future of the Eighth Wonder of the World.
The $66-million plan would tear down most of the Astrodome and replace it with an open design built around the look of the underlying Astrodome structure. Panels would highlight Astrodome history, while space could be used for a variety of events. It's also designed to accommodate traffic in the greater stadium area.
For the record, the rodeo leaders did support the bonding proposal to renovate the Astrodome. The demolition plan comes from Gensler and Linbeck Construction.
The project, titled the "Astrodome Hall of Fame," calls for tearing down the dome, bringing the floor to ground level and installing an open-air structure where the walls once stood, according to a 37-page proposal obtained by the Houston Chronicle. The plan, drawn up by two architecture and construction firms, is designed to pay tribute to "the Astrodome's history" and realize its potential as an "outdoor fulcrum" of NRG Park.
Renderings show what looks like the ribs of the former stadium circling a vast, grassy space with multiple event stages. Tributes to the various events, athletes and entertainers – from Elvis to Earl Campbell – who have played and performed at the stadium throughout the decades would be installed on each of 72 structural columns that would stand as tall as the 49-year-old structure....
Historic preservationists who have fought to save the dome chafed at the plan Thursday.
"It just doesn't seem very innovative," said Beth Wiedower, a senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "I think demolition is shortsighted and not in the best interest of taxpayers."
RELATED STORIES: Astrodome awarded historic designation -- but it probably won't change anything; Astrodome renovation plan shot down by voters; Fate of Astrodome again under debate in Houston; Future of Astrodome: Three scenarios; Astros turn back the clock this season to mark Astrodome opening; Is Houston angling to close Astrodome?
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