County Officials Say Astrodome Demolition Not A Done Deal

From left to right: Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack, Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, Harris County DA Devon Anderson (in red) and assistants on either side, Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee, and Harris County Commissioner R. Jack Cagle
A measure to refurbish the Houston Astrodome may have been defeated last week, but new developments could delay any plan to demolish the iconic structure.

When Harris County residents decided against a referendum to spend $217 million dollars in bonds to turn the Astrodome into a giant, air conditioned multi-use facility, the structure once dubbed the "8th Wonder of the World" was certain to be demolished.

But Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee says the Dome's future still hasn't been decided.

"There's no mad rush for that because we did have some obligations to the tenants, as well as how you use the structure going forward. We're gonna stay within the confines of what the public hopes to do or not do."

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says still to be determined is a consensus on how to proceed.

"I've had a lot of voters say, 'We don't need another convention center.' I agree, we don't need another, it wasn't what the plan was, and so that's a problem. And then the cost, I mean $217 million dollars is a lot of money. Taxpayers have a right to say, 'No, we don't want you taking that much of our money.' So, it's gonna take us a little while to sort through the various opinions on court."

Emmett says a lot of conversation is taking place about what should happen next with the Dome.

"We're hearing from the public. A lot of people are coming forward saying, 'Well, we don't want you to tear it down. We just didn't want to spend the public money. And then, we have other people say, 'Should've gone down the day after the vote.' And so, we're gonna listen to the public for a little while and see what comes."

Commissioners will continue discussion when they meet again next month.

Meanwhile, Houston's historical commission voted unanimously to consider landmark status to the Dome. Chris Alexander is with the group Astrodome Tomorrow. He says historical designation has its restrictions and advantages.

"Most of the kinds of preservation protection don't protect from demolition. Most of the kinds of federal, state whatever, require the property owner to make the application. So the property owner being the county, they would have to apply for that protection. And nobody thinks they're gonna do that; although, who knows? Now, it's a different landscape since the election."

Even though the building is owned by Harris County, Houston City Council will have the final say on historic designation.

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Pat Hernandez

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