Survey Shows People Still Partial To The Astrodome
October 20, 2011
by: Pat Hernandez
Longtime Astros fans will not forget the opening of the country's first domed stadium in 1965.
Announcer: "As the baseball season gets underway, the spanking new Astrodome is the new $31 million home of the Houston Astros...."
But Minute Maid Park has been the home to the baseball club for over ten years now, and it redefined the concept of an all-weather venue with its retractable roof.
The Astrodome was sent to the bench when a bigger, more modern Reliant Stadium was built.
You may remember a KUHF-KHOU 11 News survey done about a year ago, on what to do with the aging structure. This time, Rice University Professor Bob Stein collected the opinions of 748-registered voters on three options: Tear it down for 100 milion dollars and replace it with a park; keep the edifice and spend 300-million for a convention facility; or spend $500-million for an elaborate, multi-purpose educational and entertainment venue.
"And again, we've got the same results we got in 2010. It seems as if voters would support spending as much as 300 million dollars, to keep the facility up as a shell, and convert it into some other type of usage: planetarium, science and technology center or a multi-purpose convention center. But a very, by margins of about two-thirds, oppose to tearing it down, remediating it and making it into a park."
He says the survey showed respondents who want to keep the Dome were slightly older.
"Well over 70 percent of voters in this upcoming election will be over 50 years of age, and they probably have very fond memories of the Astrodome and of course, the early Astros playing there in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, and they don't want to tear it down."
The issue of whether to raze the Dome or refurbish — it has been the big question ever since Ed Emmett became Harris County Judge.
"Sooner or later we're gonna have to go to the public and say, this is the best plan for the Dome. You approve it or don't approve it. And the county's not going to have the money to rebuild the Dome, or even to tear it down and replace it with a park or anything like that, without some kind of a bond issue. And if that's the case, then the voters are gonna have to approve something sooner or later, and that will be the very interesting political question."
And while the county spends upwards up $5 million a year to maintain the unused structure, Judge Emmett says they're now waiting for the findings of a consultant later this year to determine the next course of action.
"And I know people always go, 'Great just what we need, another consultant report.' But in this case, we really did need to see what are all the real options. And engaged in this of course are the Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Texans, and all the 'interests' that are out there in and around the Dome. So hopefully they'll come back and say, 'Here's the best option, second, third, fourth and go down the list, and then Commissioner's Court can come up with a proposal to present to the voters."
The exploding scoreboard that signaled a run scored or a touchdown made hasn't been used for decades now, but 4th generation Houstonian James Glassman doesn't want to see the Astrodome demolished. He's using social media the keep the wrecking ball away.
"This is Houston and we have done some crazy things in this city, at times when we didn't have any money at all, and we put it to a referendum. But we've done some really ambitious projects in this city, and I think if we got a great enough idea that everybody loved, that it wouldn't matter how much it cost."
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