What To Do With The Astrodome?

Harris County officials unveil three possibilities for the future of the Astrodome. They range from a multi-purpose redesign that includes a planetarium, a giant movie sound stage and amenities for education. They could also demolish the stadium and replace it with green space. The public needs to be sold on any of the three scenarios. Pat Hernandez has more.

At  an estimated cost of 1.3-billion dollars, they are lofty plans that could turn the 8th wonder of the world into a multi-use complex for education and commercial applications. It would enable Harris County and Houston to attract
larger scale world class entertainment, convention and sporting events.

Emil Pena with Rice University said it would inspire youth to pursue interests in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

"All educational institutions at all levels are really looking for additional space. Plus, there are also national programs that would  actually come and headquarter here based on science and technologies and engineering. So,   already, we've already struck a lot of interest just because they're looking for a permanent place to reside, and what better place than the 8th wonder of the world — the Astrodome and to redo it. We shouldn't get rid of it. We ought to really optimize the current structure and turn it into a green building, the greenest in the world, and actually use it as a technology as well, to train and to test technologies."

Another option includes removable seating, with the interior gutted, and seats concourses and skyboxes removed. It could be used for sports events, indoor festivals or events in conjunction with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.  This is Rodeo GM LeRoy Shafer:

"The master plan is critical to us. We built the original Astrohall and gave it to Harris County, and it brought all these trade shows, everything in here. We built the arena. We called Astro Arena at the time, it's now Reliant Arena. It's an old old building at this point. It needs to be replaced. We have a lot of things here. We have our horse shows there. We have at least three of our livestock shows there. We have our major auctions there. So, we'd like to see that one replaced, and this master plan ties it all in beautifully."

Another option would include space for meeting rooms, conference rooms and laboratories, built on what are now the Dome's 5th and 7th levels. A movie sound stage would be added. Mark Miller, is GM of Reliant Park. He says the
public's response would determine the future of the Dome.

"The whole purpose of today was to start to get the word out, to gauge their reaction, to see what the public wants to do. We know what we need. We know what we want, but getting their feedback, getting them interested in having this accomplished here is what it's all about today."

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It costs the county about 2-million dollars to maintain the Astrodome in its present condition. The master plan and the options would be in keeping with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett's desire that a plan for the future of the
Dome be adopted by the end of the year.


Let your voice be heard at www.reliantpark.com/feedback/.

For more information, view these documents:

Dome Facts Sheet
Reliant Park Atlas.pdf

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...