Plans for a $105-million renovation of Houston’s Astrodome have effectively stalled, leaving questions about when the future of the venue will ultimately be addressed.
Home of the Houston Astros from 1965-1999, the Astrodome has deteriorated amidst a long-running debate over its future. It appeared that the facility was heading toward a certain fate in early 2018, when Harris County officials signed off on a $105-million plan that would repurpose it into an event venue, while raising its floor to create below-ground parking. At the time, the goal was to begin the renovation in the fall of 2018 and complete it in early 2020, but those plans have run into plenty of uncertainties.
The renovation was backed by then Harris County judge Ed Emmett, who was defeated in his reelection bid last fall by Linda Hidalgo. Since taking over, Hidalgo has focused on other priorities–including bail reform and flood control–and has raised questions about the financials behind the Astrodome renovation plan. Some initial work on the project was completed, but it has since stalled. Hidalgo addressed the issue recently, indicating that–with the county focused on other issues–no major steps toward the Astrodome renovation will be taken until some financial issues can be ironed out. More from the Houston Chronicle:
Work on the Astrodome has ground to a halt, and it’s not clear when — or if — the renovation plan spearheaded by Emmett will be picked back up again.
“There are no other updates or changes at this time, but the Astrodome is forever part of our history,” Hidalgo said in a written statement. “Right now, we are focused on transformational actions that will improve the daily lives of our residents.”
Hidalgo stressed that the county has boosted its flood control capacity, enhanced its environmental monitoring capability and fixed a broken bail-bond system.
“Until we can make sure that the Astrodome plan makes fiscal sense and makes sense for our community, no major steps will be taken with regard to the project,” she added.
Over the years, the discussion over the future of the Astrodome has taken many twists and turns. While it was used for some events for a few years following the team’s departure, it has not hosted a full-time professional sports franchise since the Astros left for a new ballpark following the 1999 season. In 2009, the Houston fire marshal’s office decided that the structure was unfit for occupancy, while a 2013 referendum for a $217-million bond issue for renovations was rejected by Harris County voters. The Astrodome was designated a state antiquities landmark in 2017, meaning that any plans to alter or demolish it would require approval from the Texas Historical Commission.
The Astrodome originally opened in 1965, and was known to many as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
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