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Interview with Willie Loston

Willie Loston is the Executive Director of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation, which is the not-for-profit company that operates and maintains the public facilities at Reliant Park, including Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome. It was the HCSCC that called for and evaluated the private proposals for the Astrodome, and the HCSCC that ultimately presented the plan for a publicly-funded renovation of the Dome into a multi-purpose event facility. Of course, the process of coming up with a sustainable plan for the Dome goes back well before this year, but after a few false starts it has traction now. As you know, not everyone is on board with HCSCC’s idea, which must be approved by Commissioners Court and then ratified by popular vote, and there are still a lot of questions about why it was the HCSCC plan that was put forward, why has this taken so long, and so on. Mr. Loston reached out to me after one of my (many) posts about the Dome, and agreed to let me throw a few of these questions at him for my blog. Here’s what we talked about:

Willie Loston interview

Just as a point of clarification, the interview was conducted yesterday, so when Loston refers to the Commissioners Court meeting tomorrow, he means today, Tuesday. I believe this is the link Loston refers to when he mentions searching for the master plan. We’ll see what Commissioners Court does today; I’m sure there will be plenty more opportunities to write about this before all is said and done.

UPDATE: Commissioners Court has unanimously approved the HCSCC proposal, and sent it to the county budget office, county attorney and infrastructure department for further review.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he expects to hear back on the proposal in about a month.

The budget office will look at ways to finance the project, including revenue generators to offset the price tag of any bond referendum sent to voters. The project could end up on the ballot in the form of a bond referendum as early as November.

Commissioners had no comment on the proposal before voting to send it to staff.

Emmett, however, explained that they were referring it to the budget office “to analyze what exactly the financial impact is because if there is a bond, there will be a tax and everybody needs to understand that, but the level of that tax right now is still undetermined.”

The county attorney, he said, will determine what deadlines have to be met to get the item on the ballot.

So far so good. Now that the T-word has been invoked, we’ll see who pops up to oppose this.

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2 Comments

  1. Cynthia Neely says:

    Why is it that no one finds it questionable that the same people who neglected the Astrodome to the point it is unusable are now reliable to recommend and supervise its $194 million remodel? The Sports Corp was created to be stewards of the “Astrodomain” and failed miserably! First, Drayton McLane was paid $18+million to buy out what was left on his lease on the Dome when he moved out his Astros then it went downhill after that. Nothing to show for that $18 million. A fully operational facility went to hell under their care and now taxpayers are supposed trust them with MORE money and MORE authority and MORE decision-making? This is madness. What company in the world would keep its executives that allowed their biggest asset to fall into ruin? It is also suspect that until two taxpayers, myself and Ted Powell, announced we had filed a nomination for historical status for the Astrodome, that suddenly Judge Emmett and the Sports Corp are now endorsing preservation. They could have filed with the Texas Historical Commission years and years ago and used Federal funds and all kinds of grants to restore the building, as Mr Powell and I pointed out at Commissioners Court. Brownfields money is also available. I have personally met with their representative. If the Sports Corp had kept the building up, as was their duty, it would still be bringing in revenue and probably functioning as a convention center etc as they are NOW proposing. Really! Why haven’t these geniuses proposed all this before? Why are taxpayers, who own the Dome, allowing them to continue to have anythng further to do with the historic building they have destroyed by neglect?

  2. […] noted this briefly in an update to my interview with Willie Loston, but on Tuesday Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously approved the proposal by the Harris […]

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