We have another concept for the preservation of the Astrodome: Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is proposing the Eighth Wonder of the World be converted to the world’s largest indoor park.
The plan was long on platitudes and short on specifics, but it did jump-start another round of discussions about the future of the Astrodome, once the home to MLB and NFL teams in the city. Harris County officials have struggled with a future use of the stadium, which has sat empty for five years. It’s too expensive and too important historically to just tear down, but it would also be very expensive to redevelop. From the Houston Chronicle:
“Rather than try to convert the Dome into something it was never intended to be, I think it’s time to look back to the vision of Judge (Roy) Hofheinz,” Emmett told reporters at a news conference on the floor of the world’s first domed stadium, which has sat vacant for five years and not housed a sports team since the Astros left for their new downtown park after the 1999 season.
The county’s top elected official did not present any blueprints or renderings on Tuesday, but discussed a loose concept for an evolving air-conditioned facility that he said could host festivals and other community gatherings, general exercise facilities, hike and bike trails on the upper levels, an amphitheater, a pavilion for concerts and other events, museums and special educational facilities for children. The county-owned Dome also could house sports facilities, such as an archery range or horseshoe pits, he said.
He acknowledged the proposal was open-ended and did not include a cost estimate or funding plan, the lack of which has been his major criticism of previous proposals to redevelop the stadium.
The Houston Texans (NFL) and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo recently proposed tearing down the Astrodome and turning the site to a green space/Astrodome remembrance/group space. 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.
RELATED STORIES: More Astrodome seats may be sold by Harris County; Astrodome demolition proposed by Texans, rodeo; 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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