I suppose now that the Dynamo have finally gotten an official commitment from all relevant parties to go forward with their downtown stadium idea that it was inevitable the question of why didn’t they just use the Astrodome came up again one last time. The answers really should be obvious, but let’s go over them again for old time’s sake.
Dynamo President Oliver Luck answers the question with questions of his own: What conditions would be imposed by Reliant Park’s other tenants, namely the rodeo and the Texans? Are certain dates blocked? What’s the infrastructure like inside the domed stadium?
It costs money and time to get answers, and Luck said he would need to know them before addressing the biggest question of all: “Would $60 million get you anywhere with the Astrodome?”
Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation, which runs the Astrodome and the rest of the Reliant Park complex, said any conversion of the Dome would be “some multiple” of the $32 million still owed for the aging ballpark’s 1980s renovations.
“You’d have to consider it a substantial renovation project,” Loston said.
A building with 60,000 seats would need to be configured for 30,000 for soccer, turf would have to be installed and the building would have to be brought up to fire and building codes.
“It certainly is more than just hanging a Dynamo banner on the outside and starting to play games in there,” Loston said.
Right on queue, there’s a letter to the editor today from someone asking the “why not the Dome for the Dynamo” question. I’ve discussed this before, and to me it’s always come down to a simple question: Why would the Dynamo want to put $60 million or more of their own money into a stadium that isn’t a good fit for them and would likely cost a whole lot more than that to make it into something that might be? The Dome as configured would be a lousy fan experience and would cost too much to operate. Converting it into something suitable would be very expensive, and the end result might not look anything like what some folks are hoping to preserve. Far as I could tell, in all this time there’s been very little overlap between those who ever had attended or ever might attend a Dynamo game, and those who wondered why they just didn’t use the Astrodome. Maybe now people will finally stop asking about it. Elsewhere in the Chron, Council Member James Rodriguez sings the praises of the downtown stadium-to-be, and soccer writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz sings the praises of Dynamo President Oliver Luck.