Hey, look! It’s another What To Do With The Astrodome study! Woo hoo!
The Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo have commissioned a study showing it would cost $29 million to demolish the 48-year-old stadium and build a 1,600-space parking lot, less than half what consultants hired by the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. estimated it would cost to tear down the defunct facility.
The most recent cost estimate to tear down the 9.14-acre structure and build a plaza in its place was $64 million, cited in a report released last year by consultants hired by the sports corporation, which runs Reliant Park. A 2010 study said demolition, asbestos removal and construction of a plaza would cost $78 million.
Rodeo Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer said the parties wanted to calculate a lowest-cost option to present to Harris County Commissioner’s Court.
“We’re not recommending this option over any other option, but we didn’t feel there was a viable, low-cost option and we think this will do that,” Shafer said. “We hope the commissioners find this information helpful as they evaluate options to deal with the Astrodome and move Reliant Park forward for the citizens of Harris County.”
According to an executive summary, the study offers three options for demolishing the Dome: implode it for $7.3 million; dismantle it for $11.8 million; or partially dismantle and blow up the building for $11.8 million. A separate estimate puts the cost of imploding the Dome and building a 1,600-space parking lot at $29 million.
“It is our professional opinion the Reliant Astrodome can be decommissioned and demolished safely and the site be readied for a new purpose,” local firms Linbeck Construction and Walter P. Moore and Associates wrote in a March 15 letter attached to the study.
County Judge Ed Emmett said he was “disappointed” with the study because he thought it was going to contain more extensive recommendations.
“I was hoping that this was going to be a meaningful look at alternatives, but instead this was just a pricing on tearing down the dome, and if commissioner’s court makes that decision, we’d probably do that pricing ourselves,” Emmett said, adding that the Texans “and the Livestock Show & Rodeo to a lesser extent have made it clear that they would prefer that the dome be demolished.”
While acknowledging the discussion about what to do with the dome has lasted for too long, Emmett said, “We’re not going to be rushed on it.”
Well, that much is for sure. The $64 million demolition price tag always did seem too high. I’m not crazy about putting in more parking – there has to be some better use for the land than that – especially since the extra space is really only needed a few times a year. But whether this has an effect on Houston’s bid to host Super Bowl LI or not, we do need to quit fooling around and figure this out. Forget the studies and set a deadline for redevelopment proposals – the economy is good enough now that someone ought to be able to get financing for one of the many schemes that have been floated in the past – then either pick a winner or put out bids for demolition. No one is being served by dragging this out. If nothing else, the Dome itself deserves to know what its ultimate fate will be. Swamplot has more.