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Three options for the Dome

We’ve been talking for a long time now about what is to become of the Astrodome. Harris County officials have some possible scenarios to discuss next week as part of a master plan for Reliant Park. Like it or not, demolition is on the table.

If the Dome is demolished, it would be replaced by a park-like setting rather than parking spaces, [Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation] said. And demolition, he said, would be more complicated than it was for Texas Stadium in Irving, the Dallas Cowboys’ former stadium, which was ringed by three freeways with no other buildings nearby.

“This (the Astrodome) is in the middle of an operating complex,” Loston said. “I’ve got football games I’m getting ready for (at Reliant Stadium) in two months.”

I’ll never object to the addition of park space, but I’m wondering how much use it would get. I can see some possibilities, but I also have this vision of the place being basically abandoned except when there’s an event at Reliant. I’ll need to see some details.

The other options start with the same premise: The Dome’s outer shell would remain standing, but the interior would be gutted, removing seats, concourses and skyboxes, and a 300,000- to 400,000-square-foot floor would be installed at street level above the current Dome floor, which is 32 feet below street level.

“When you walked into the Dome, you would walk right onto this new floor surface,” Loston said. “We would be getting rid of the hole in the ground and rehabbing the building.”

Potential uses in a basic reconfiguration could include a planetarium and a institute for science, technology, education and mathematics, established through non-public funding. With portable seats, the Dome also could accommodate sports events, indoor festivals or events in conjunction with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The third option — “the second option on steroids,” as Loston described it — would include space for meeting rooms, conference rooms and laboratories, built on what are now the Dome’s fifth and seventh levels, plus a collection of museums and a movie soundstage.

All this sounds great, but the key words in there are “non-public funding”. The reason why this has dragged on for as long as it has is precisely because there has not been a private entity that has been able to provide a plan for the Dome and the money to make it happen. How is this different from those previous efforts? I guess we’ll learn more next week, but for now color me skeptical.

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8 Comments

  1. robert kane says:

    Best idea IMO that I’ve heard anyone talk about, comes from the guy at tubularrail (www.tubularrail.com). Make it into a terminus for his elevated light rail type lines. They could come in on an upper level and buses on the lower level. Could become almost like a tourist attraction with shopping etc. . Look at Union Station in D.C., Grand Central in NYC, South Station in Boston… look at this NY Times article http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/01/18/travel/18headsup.html

    Houston could be added to that list of awesome places trains enter/depart.

    But I fear that Houston will choose something as blah as demolishing it and making it more parking. Or turning it into something no one will use and everyone will pay for.

  2. Michael says:

    I’ve long been against the demolition of the Dome, and remain so to a point. In the end, I just want that space used for something other than parking if they blow it up.

  3. Brad M. says:

    A park in the middle of what is essentially a private parking lot sounds like a silly idea. You are right…who would use it. Probably just for select private corporate events during the rodeo or football games. As much as I love the Dome and have a great many memories this expensive albatross needs to go away and fast. Our costs per year (how many millions?) to the taxpayer is too great.

  4. Evan says:

    The inevitability of history already shows what will happen to the Astrodome. As the 8th Wonder of the World, like the other Wonders, it will either be destroyed in an earthquake or in a fire.
    And since there are no earthquakes in Houston, fire it is.
    The Houston Fire Dept. should prepare for this.

  5. Brad M. says:

    I predict the 8th Wonder goes down when the killer bees come back and bzzz down the Dome.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078350/plotsummary

  6. [...] As promised last week, we now have more information on the three options for the Dome. The Sports & Convention Corporation hosted a news conference Monday to present the broad outlines of three possible plans for the 45-year-old Astrodome and 35-year-old Reliant Arena: [...]

  7. [...] you believe it’s been over six months since we first heard about the three options for the Dome, none of which were particularly well liked? My interpretation of Judge [...]

  8. [...] studio or convention center/hotel or whatever is viable. A corollary to that is that the fabled three options are no longer in play – the Emmett Option is far more minimalist than any of them. [...]

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