Perhaps not as much as Harris Country officials have been saying.
The expected price tag to demolish the Reliant Astrodome that Harris County officials have cited in recent years far exceeds the cost of razing other stadiums across the country, including domes of comparable size.
Officials with the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. are preparing to release a study next month comparing the cost of knocking down the Dome with the price of renovating it in several forms.
Willie Loston, executive director of the Sports Corp., said the estimated cost of demolition is lower than that produced by a similar study two years ago, but declined to say the new number before members of Commissioners Court are informed.
The 2010 study estimated the cost of demolition at $78 million, including $10 million for asbestos removal and $10 million to put a “plaza” on the site after demolition. That does not include the $29.9 million the county still owes on the building, which has sat empty since the city deemed it unfit for occupancy in 2009, and has not been home to a team for more than a decade.
The priciest stadium demolition a Houston Chronicle examination found was $22 million for New York’s Yankee Stadium, which was completed in 2010.
Indianapolis’ RCA Dome cost $13 million to raze in 2008.
The Seattle Kingdome was imploded in 2000 for about $10 million, as was Giants Stadium in New Jersey, which was razed in 2010.
“Wow,” said Mike Taylor, executive director of the National Association of Demolition Contractors, when told of the estimate. “I should go back in the business if they’re going to give me $78 million to bring that down. I know my boots are somewhere.”
Mike Dokell, demolition division manager for Houston-based Cherry Demolition, and Jim Redyke, of Tulsa-based Dykon Explosive Demolition Corp., agreed.
“I think their estimate includes a lot of contingencies and a lot of worst-case scenarios and when they go out for bid they’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Dokell said. “The 78 (million) number includes a lot of things a demo guy is typically not going to include.”
I don’t know if the study Loston cites is the same as the one ordered by Commissioners Court last year to ask once again the “what do we do with the Dome?” question or if it’s some other study. The 2010 study that cites a $78 million price tag is interesting because the proposals that were put forward at the time cited a figure of $128 million, while a subsequent public opinion poll put it at $100 million. You have to wonder where those other numbers came from. I have to agree with Commissioner Morman when he says that we need accurate information before making a decision about this. Maybe a lower price tag on demolition would change people’s minds and maybe it wouldn’t. But we shouldn’t use a wildly overinflated number as a reason not to do it.