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Will the Astrodome derail our Super Bowl bid?

Heaven forbid.

Is the end in sight?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told a crowd on Tuesday that by 2017, Reliant will be 15 years old and therefore in need of some upgrades like digital scoreboards. Texans owner Bob McNair says the city must look at all its venues when wooing the NFL, and on the top of that list is the Astrodome.

At a luncheon in downtown Tuesday afternoon, Goodell talked about only one facility as he addressed Houston’s bid for Super Bowl 51.

“The stadium is critical to any Super Bowl bid. That’s our stage,” he said.

But McNair is clearly concerned about the one that sits right next to it.

“We need to come to the conclusion as to what’s going to be done with the Astrodome. It’s not a pretty sight sitting there now and it’s noticeable and people comment on it, so we need to make a decision and move on,” McNair said.

Once again, what to do with the Astrodomee; this time as it affects the city’s chance of hosting a third Super Bowl in 2017, and leading the charge for urgency is McNair.

“It’s just another issue and the better the facilities are that we can make available to the league, the more attractive Houston is as a site,” McNair said.

And the so-called Eighth Wonder of the World, as it is, is useless. It’s a costly health hazard that’s been closed for five years.

Demolition and repurposing are on the table. Harris County commissioners want the people to decide at the ballot box sometime next year. It can still fit into the bid timeline, says Greg Ortale with the Greater Houston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, but addressing it is a must.

“I think if we don’t address it in the bid, I think it could be a problem,” Ortale said.

That sound you hear is County Judge Ed Emmett breaking open a new case of Maalox. Commissioners Court chose to defer on a Dome-related referendum this year. We may have yet another report on what to do with the Dome, but we don’t have a consensus yet, and it’s not clear to me how a vote on the Dome’s fate would go. But since I’m sure that nobody will want to be blamed for fumbling away the opportunity to host another Super Bowl, I feel fairly confident that we’re going to get the chance to take that vote real soon.

The Chron doesn’t mention the Dome, but it does discuss the scoreboard in Reliant Stadium as another thing that Must Be Dealt With before the NFL makes its decision.

Mark Miller, general manager of SMG-Reliant Park, explained what has to happen for Reliant Stadium to get a new digital scoreboard in time for the 2013 season.

“It would be physically possible to be in by next season, but it would be an issue of whether the funding would work out,” Miller said. “Right now, we’re working with the Texans, the rodeo and the county to see what we can do to get a new scoreboard.

“We’ve got a number of issues with it, but the one (scoreboard) we have now is an older format that really causes problems with the resolution — the overall picture. We’re trying to get it back to standard, an exciting enhancement for the fans.

“Hopefully, it’ll be state-of-the-art for a long time.”

The Texans and the rodeo will have to agree on a new scoreboard, and then they’ll have to work out a plan with the county to pay for it. Representatives of the rodeo are “taking the lead,” according to Miller, and talking with manufacturers of scoreboards.

I’m thinking that with the pace of technological change, nothing is “state of the art” for long. I’d settle for “sufficiently adequate”, with the capability to up upgraded or expanded or whatever in a cost-effective manner, for a long time. The cost estimate for a new scoreboard ranges from $10 million to $30 million, and some of that money could come from a state trust fund that uses tax money to help communities play host to major sports events, of which both Reliant and JerryWorld have been beneficiaries. Frankly, the scoreboard will be the much easier obstacle to overcome than the Dome.

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2 Comments

  1. John says:

    The county commissioners don’t have the spine to make a decision. I predict they will spend another $1mm in the next year for another consultant study. Have the past studies been done by the same firm? Just curious if they keep using the same people or hire different consultants whom all seem to reach the same conclusion

  2. samuel says:

    it would be hard to see the dome go but if it isn’t being used for anything then the best thing to do is get rid of it.

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