So says Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.
“We on the Commissioners’ Court are going to have to make a decision, and I think it needs to be made this year, as to what we are going to propose to the voters,” he said. “It is a challenge, because every time we take a poll and ask people in public gatherings, ‘Do you want to tear down the Dome?’ 80 percent say no. When I ask what they want to do with it, that’s when it gets to be tricky.”
The Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., which operates the county-owned Reliant Park complex, last year offered three scenarios. One option, totaling about $88 million, would demolish the Dome and use the land for a fountain and public space. It also would include about $300 million to add convention space at Reliant Park and replace Reliant Arena. Other options would retain and redesign the Dome and update Reliant Park’s convention facilities at a cost ranging up to $1.35 billion in private and public funds.
Willie Loston, executive director of the Sports and Convention Corp., said the agency hopes to ask commissioners for money this year to fund feasibility studies on future uses for the Dome.
Emmett said it could be a year, or more, before significant steps are taken on the Dome’s future step.
“That would be OK, as long as people know what is going to happen and where we want to go, even if we can’t start it,” he said. “But I do think it’s time to make a decision on where we want to go with it.”
Can 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 Emmett’s remarks is basically “Look, when the economy improves to the point that someone can finally get financing for one of these hairbrained schemes for the Dome, we’ll do something about it. In the meantime, just deal with it.” He might phrase it a bit more delicately than that, but you get the idea.