Decisions, Decisions ... What To Do About The Houston Astrodome?

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the future of the Houston Astrodome will be initially decided by county commissioners, and if that involves money, then residents would have to approve it in a referendum.

Last week, a study done by the Houston Texans and Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo determined that it would cost $29 million to implode the 8th Wonder of the World and build a parking lot in its place. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett put that study with all the ones that have been done over the past decade.

"We're far from making that decision. Commissioner's Court has to decide what to do with the Dome, and we are all pretty much chewing on the (Harris County) Sports and Convention Corporation saying, 'Give us the best ideas because we do have to move forward.' But if the decision were to be made that the Dome would somehow come down, we'd have to go out for bids. So I mean, a study doesn't do us any good on that."

If anything, the latest study has renewed interest in transforming the Dome, but he says the lingering question remains:

"What's the revenue stream that's gonna support whatever the idea is and that's what Commissioner's Court's gonna have to decide. Once we decide what to do with the Astrodome, the Harris County Domed Stadium, then you start asking the question: How much will it cost and who's gonna pay for it? And if it involves taxpayer dollars, then the taxpayers are gonna get to have a say on that."

Emmett says he expects the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation to contribute to the discussion.

"They know that they're kind of under the gun to come up with a suggestion as to what the best idea is, and my guess is that they'll bring options to Commissioner's  Court and Commissioner's Court will vote."

During last week's tour of the Astrodome, Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, said residents who want to see the structure saved should speak up.

"This something that we all have the opportunity to comment on at some point, and if folks feel strongly about it one way or another, that's what they ought to do."

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says he hopes to have a definitive direction before the end of this year.

"I certainly hope so. But again, even if the Sports and Convention Corporation came in here tomorrow and said, 'Okay, here's our best idea,' then the five of us have to put it on the agenda and vote on it."

It's estimated that it costs about $2 million a year just to maintain the Astrodome in its present condition.

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Pat Hernandez

Reporter

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