06/04/15 3:00pm

Rendering of Proposed Renovations to Minute Maid Park Center Field, Downtown Houston

The Astros announced today that the team had received preliminary approval from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority to knock down the banked bit of center field past the Minute Maid Park warning track known as Tal’s Hill. The graded area was named after the team’s former president, Tal Smith, who first suggested including an elevation change — a rarity both in baseball and in Houston — to the stadium soon to be known as Enron Field. The proposed renovations, priced at $15 million and scheduled to take place at the end of the current season, would also straighten out the center field fence and bring it in to 409 ft. from home plate (from the current 436 ft.). More important, the opened-up space beyond would allow room for 3 new bars and 4 new food-service locations, as well as a new group seating area at the field level, which conceptual renderings of the new design released by the American League team (above and below) appear to show tucked behind a new see-through portion of the centerfield fence.


Off Ramp
12/22/14 10:00am

OH MY GOD! THEY KILLED KYLE! Here’s a view from the front row yesterday morning as the west side of Kyle Field comes a’-tumbling down, to the cheers, hullabaloo, and whoops of a crowd police estimated at 7,000. The Aggies are eager for the final phase of the school’s ongoing stadium renovation project to come to completion.  After hauling off the 75,000 tons of debris, and rebuilding, the Aggies plan to have Kyle Field reopened — with a capacity of 102,51, the largest stadium in Texas — by September 12, when Ball State University’s gridiron warriors invade College Station in new Kyle Field’s debut. [Bryan-College Station Eagle; previously on SwamplotVideo: Ton Wagner

11/25/14 2:26pm


Phase 2 of Texas A&M’s $450 million Kyle Field makeover will get underway in earnest in the early morning hours of December 21, after a season-long pause to slot in the Aggies’ 2014 home-field gridiron slate. That’s when Christmas will arrive early for demolition junkies, as the stadium’s multitiered west side will come down with a bang.

Some prep work has already begun, but the pace will quicken about two hours after the conclusion of the Aggies’ season finale on Thanksgiving Day against LSU. That’s when the whole stadium will once again become a construction zone, and only those with the proper credentials will be granted entry.


Expanding Aggieland
07/29/14 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A GUIDE TO SOUNDING OUT THE NAMES OF HOUSTON’S ACRONYMED SPORTS STADIUMS NRG“Just make up a pronunciation. “TDECU” becomes “tuh-DECK-you,” and is the response to “why Grandma, what big fists you have!” Likewise, “NRG” becomes “nurg” (a kind of parasitic technician) and “BBVA” becomes “bubba-VUH” (Popul Vuh’s brother from the country).” [Memebag, commenting on Here’s That Downtown View the University of Houston Rotated Its Football Stadium For] Illustration: Lulu

07/28/14 12:30pm

View of Downtown from TDECU Stadium University of Houston

From the Twitter feed of Brandon Blue comes this across-the-endzone pic of the University of Houston’s newly minted TDECU Stadium, highlighting the view of downtown Houston the structure’s designers felt made it worth twisting the scrapped-and-rebuilt house of Cougar football. Robertson Stadium was aligned in a more even-handed northish-southish direction. TDECU Stadium (officially, ), constructed on the demolished remains of that structure, is rotated to match the eastish-westish orientation of neighboring Scott St. and Cullen Blvd., a decision that a few momentarily blinded quarterbacks or receivers may come to bemoan during afternoon games. But the benefit of those bleacher cutouts separating the upper decks of stadium’s endzones from the bleachers at the sides is clear: A gleaming glimpse of Houston’s homegrown mountain range opens up through the concrete canyon.


Giving TDECU Credit
10/23/13 11:00am

ADDING UP THE ASTRODOLLARS Teevee reporter Ted Oberg finds that the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation expects to make about $4 million a year on the New Dome, once it’s cleaned up and converted into 350,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space for things like, say, bowling competitions, hardware shows, or the Quidditch World Championships. “[But] costs,” cautions Oberg, “will eat up $3.9 million of it.” Still, HCSCC chair Edgar Colon seems undaunted by these figures: “It will be self-sufficient.” [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: New Dome PAC

10/11/13 10:00am

VOTE FOR NEW DOME, SAYS MAYOR PARKER As the demolition — or, as Judge Ed Emmett might call it, the improvement — of some of the exterior features of the Astrodome begins, Mayor Parker has declared her support of the seeming this-or-nothing $217 million bond measure that would pay for a slimming down and cleaning up of the aging icon to make it ready for convention and exhibition space. Says the incumbent about the so-called New Dome: “This plan will bring jobs, a positive economic impact and a renewed sense of pride in the Dome for all Houstonians.” [Preservation Houston; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation

10/09/13 10:15am

NO, THESE ARE ASTRODOME “IMPROVEMENTS,” SAYS JUDGE EMMETT Harris County Judge Ed Emmett plays a game of semantics with KUHF’s Gail Delaughter to try to clear up any lingering misconceptions and assert that the removal beginning this week of the Astrodome’s exterior features — ticket booths, grass berms, concrete ramps, substations, transmission lines, and stair pavilions — isn’t what it might seem to be: “I would actually like to call them improvements to the Dome rather than demolition to the Dome. This does in no way presage any demolition of the Dome. This is an improvement that had to be made, probably should have been made a long time ago, but we’re doing it now.” [KUHF; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia

10/07/13 10:00am

Construction should begin by the end of October to transform a chopped-up industrial street in East Downtown into something like the pedestrian promenade rendered here. Anton Sinkewich, the director of the East Downtown Management District, explains that 5 blocks of Bastrop St., between Bell and McKinney, running near the Houston Food Truck Park and leading toward BBVA Compass Stadium on Walker, will be regraded. A pedestrian-only crushed granite path will be installed and dozens of trees planted. This first part of the project is modest, says Sinkewich, though there are plans in place to include more amenities if and when the ’hood continues to grow.


10/03/13 10:00am

Not the whole stadium — not yet, anyway — but Mark Miller, the general manager of Reliant Park, says that all the Astrodome’s exterior features will be knocked down as early as next week. And that appears to include everything that leads right up to the Dome’s walls: Not just the ticket booths that appeared Wednesday in the Daily Demolition Report, but also the concrete stairs, ramps, grass berms, substations, and transmission lines that you can see in the photo above.


10/01/13 2:00pm

We don’t have all that many to spare, but it appears that there will soon be one fewer thin-shell paraboloid roof in Houston: HISD says it plans to demolish the 1958 James M. Delmar Fieldhouse (known now as the Delmar-Tusa Fieldhouse) and build a new facility in its place. According to a press release, the old stadium is “currently in poor condition with major roof leaks, flooding problems in the locker rooms and a sports medicine area that falls short of athletic league standards.”

The 5,000-seat swayback fieldhouse is located at 2020 Mangum Rd., just outside the Loop in Lazybrook and Timbergrove. Designed by Milton McGinty, who also had a hand in the Rice Stadium, the gym served as the home court in the ’60s for UH and the Elvin Hayes-powered Coogs. But it would seem that HISD wants to make haste and move on from that history: “The goal is to have the site ready for construction as soon as possible and complete the replacement facility by late 2016.”

Photo: Houston Daily Photo

09/24/13 10:00am

Part of the so-called “New Dome Experience” devised by the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. proposes that the space-age icon be slimmed down — and, if this new promo video is any indication, that means more than just removing ramps and staircases from the stadium’s unwashed exterior, but also chopping its name in half. You’ll see in this new commercial, produced by the recently formed committee to persuade voters in advance of this November’s this-or-nothing bond election, that the Astrodome is referred to throughout solely as “the Dome,” whether it’s hosting technology conferences, Ferris wheel demonstrations, or generic swimming championships.

Video: TheNewDomePAC

08/28/13 11:15am

SPORTS AND CONVENTION CORP.: WE HAVE WAYS TO MAKE YOU LIKE OUR ASTRODOME PLAN Unlike that rather inadequately advertised call for private bids about what to do with the Astrodome, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. appears to be taking very public pains before the November bond referendum to make sure everyone knows about its $217 million plan to slim down and spruce up the dingy behemoth into a convention center and event space. KUHF reports that the HCSCC has agreed to form a committee charged with getting the word out and appealing to voters that its plan is the best plan. Judge Ed Emmett explains: “Most voters have an opinion — either they want to save the Dome or they don’t want to save the Dome. And those that are leaning towards saving the Dome, have to be convinced that this is a purpose that makes sense.” [KUHF; previously on Swamplot] Rendering of New Dome Experience: HCSCC

07/17/13 12:00pm

There’s more going on at U of H than that new McDonald’s, apparently: A reader sends these photos of many of the construction projects scattered across the campus. This photo shows the pylons of the still-unnamed bowl with a Downtown view that’s replacing Robertson Stadium, demolished back in December. And in the background of the photo you can see the new Cougar Place apartments. KUHF’s Jack Williams reports that the new stadium is already about a third done; more photos after the jump illustrate the below-grade playing field.


06/28/13 11:00am

SUPER BOWL FEVER SPEEDING UP ASTRODOME DECIDERS If it seems kinda arbitrary and sorta abrupt, that June 10 now-or-never deadline for Astrodome ideas that the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation set, it might be because another deadline is looming larger: February 2017, when Reliant Stadium will play host to the Super Bowl. Kiah Collier reports that once the Commissioners Court hears back from the various county agencies asked to study the $194 million plan to convert the Dome into a convention center, a public vote could happen as early as November. Still, that would give the county only 39 months before the big game to execute the conversion that’s estimated to take at least 30. Judge Ed Emmett tells Collier: “If we don’t have it this year [the New Dome Experience] won’t be ready in time for the Final Four and the Super Bowl and I hate to miss those opportunities.” [Houston Politics; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: HCSCC