The NRG Astrodome should be turned into a green space similar to Discovery Green downtown, said a majority of people recently surveyed about the future of the former sports arena.
The survey, ordered by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and conducted by the University of Houston Hobby Center for Public Policy and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, questioned RodeoHouston committee volunteers, adults in Harris County and Texans season ticket holders about the future of the dome. RodeoHouston and the Texans proposed the idea, which includes demolishing the dome, last month.
Among other findings, the survey revealed 57.1 percent of those surveyed supported the idea of a green space.
Leroy Shafer, RodeoHouston’s chief operating officer, said Thursday he was surprised at the response.
“I wasn’t expecting such a wide wave of approval for it,” Shafer said. “People don’t seem to want to spend public money on renovating the Astrodome and this idea seems favorable.
“The other option is to continue to let it sit there hoping some white knight comes along with money enough to save the thing but that doesn’t seem to be happening,” Shafer said.
After the survey was released Thursday, [County Judge Ed] Emmett was baffled by its contents.
“I hesitate to even call it a survey since the questions asked were so slanted,” Emmett said Thursday evening. “It was designed to get a certain result, which they got.”
“I don’t know why he’s so fixated on tearing down a landmark that doesn’t belong to him. Additionally, how can they call it a reuse plan when it calls to tear something down?” Emmett asked.
Here is the survey and its results and methodology. It’s a YouGov Internet survey, but since they’re sampling adults and not some voting universe, I see no issues with that. Emmett’s complaint is that the survey refers to the Astrodome Park plan as a “Public/Private Reuse Proposal” that includes a “Visitor’s Center/Museum Complex In The Center Of A Green Space”, which conveniently avoids mentioning the fact that the Dome would be demolished in order to create that green space in which the visitor’s center/museum complex would be located. I think it’s fair to say that people, even those that had been following this issue closely, might be misled into thinking that this represents a proposal to renovate the Dome into a museum and not a proposal to tear it down and build the (outdoor, open air) museum on the spot where it used to be.
I can’t say for sure that people might have been misled because for all the information provided, the exact wording of the questions is not there. Still, based on the way the results were characterized, I think Emmett’s complaint has merit. Now, Judge Emmett doesn’t like the Astrodome Park idea, and I do think people will be open to that idea even if it means demolishing the Dome. But I think you’d get a different set of answers if you spelled out just what “reusing” the Dome means in this context.
By the way, if you’re wondering what the inside of the Astrodome looks like nowadays, Swamplot has some photos for you. The Dome is never going to be a sports venue again, so whatever its ultimate fate is just think of this as a transitional stage.