Rodeo Buys Half of AstroWorld To Use as 48-Acre Parking Lot

Longtime speculation that the entire vacant 104-acre site formerly occupied by the AstroWorld amusement park might someday be turned into some sort of singular mixed-use development took a hit yesterday as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announced it is buying the entire western half of the property, which sits across the 610 Loop from Reliant Park. The charitable organization hopes to close on the 48-acre tract by the end of the year. The purchase price is listed on its website as approximately $42.8 million, or $20.50 per sq. ft., “after charitable considerations by the seller.” That’s a Dallas investment firm known as the Mallick Group, which has owned the vacant property since 2010.

What will it rodeo do on all that land?


Park a lot of cars. The rodeo fit 3,800 leased spaces on the property in the last few years of its once-a-year event. Rodeo board chairman Steve Stevens Jr. tells Houston Business Journal editor Greg Barr that other uses might develop over time — “or we could use it to free up space on the original (Reliant Park) footprint . . . That’s about as far as it goes.” The rodeo’s new land includes the pedestrian bridge linking the site to Reliant Park. “Even if we end up selling this as an investment,” CEO Leroy Shafer comments to abc13 reporter Christine Dobbyn, “we’ll control what can be put there and that’s very important when it’s our front door.”

Photo: Day and a Dream

28 Comment

  • better than a parking lot!

  • What the hell? Isn’t the rodeo supposed to be a charitable organization? Spending nearly $43 million for parking seems to be a GROSS misuse of funds. Will the rodeo also claim tax exempt status against the land? Is anyone else bothered that the rodeo is sitting on that much cash that it can part with $42.8 million without blinking an eye?

  • Hey doofus, its not a misuse of funds when the funds STAY where the charity operates, maybe you should get off your butt and go volunteer with the HLSR , then you would have a little knowledge before you open you mouth and talk about things that you do not know about……

  • I think it’s a same the rodeo a “non-profit” is banking that much money, it should go to more scolarships.

    And you can be dang sure that it’s the rodeo that has stonewalled any re-development of the dome.

  • A parking lot. That is so typical Houston. What a huge disappointment. I guess the other half of the lot will just end up being garden style apartments.

  • And Houston continues to prove how lame it has become.

  • I wonder if the seller realizes any tax benefits from its ‘charitable consideration’. I also wonder how much income will accrue to the HLSR from parking fees; it could be significant.

  • So we trade Astroworld for a parking lot. I’d say that’s a net loss.

  • disappointing.

  • “we’ll control what can be put there and that’s very important when it’s our front door.”

    So now they hold a veto right over both redevelopment of the dome, and the astroworld site – and get tax free status to boot. This is getting ridiculous. Why not juet let them secede from the city of Houston and go ahead and incorporate as Rodeo-ville.

  • Ya – lets shut down those evil do gooder charities and put some mixed use walkable development with roof top solar/wind generators there! Im sure folks will flock from all over to live/work directly across from something as spectacular as reliant/astrodome! I can see families exiting the burbs in mass to attend the glorious schools in the area, frequent the 5 star restaurants, and use the wonderful amenities that makes up that area! Ya lets stop that evil charity from increasing its profits/charitable giving!

  • Bring back the little trolleys to ferry people across the walkway.

  • Pfffft
    someone still has those trollies because the used them for Nutcracker Market, great idean they need to ferry back and fourth and around the gronds.

  • ugh non-profit doesn’t mean what most people think it means. “While not-for-profit organizations are permitted to generate surplus revenues, they must be retained by the organization for its self-preservation, expansion, or plans.”

  • What a disappointment. I’ve grown to loathe the HLSR in recent years because of their stranglehold on Reliant Park and now this! All for an event that barely lasts a few weeks!

  • @ Eddie…HLSR may only be on display for a bit less than a month, but it puts more people in seats than football and baseball put together. Full disclosure – I’ve been a life member for more than 20 years; flip side is I went inactive for over 10 years in disgust after seeing how over the top they went with the transition from the Dome to Reliant (Stadium, Center, etc., etc.). IMHO, it absolutely could put even more resources to education than it does.

  • Soooo, the math works out to 1 acre = 43,560sq ft X 48 acres = 2,090,880 square feet… is this really what a city prone to heavy rains and hurricanes needs?! More surface area impervious cover for water to shelf drain.

    Ahhh Houston, you never cease to amaze me. Would it not have been easier and cheaper to buy say 4 acres and put up a seven to ten story parking garage? Leaving the other 38 acres for more modest development and smart growth at the 610 periphery…

    I take no issue with the HLSR, they are a Houston institution. I take issue with the fact that this city, my hometown, is light years behind with regards to smart, sustainable growth and mass transit.

    Catch up soon H-town, or you just may find yourself without a smart, responsible, well intentioned populace that takes up residence elsewhere. In spite of the lower cost of living, some things are more IMPORTANT!

  • @17, It would have to be a special parking garage to accommodate the RVs, horse trailers, and semi trucks that they need to park in this space. Currently they park those in a field off of Airport and Kirby.

  • They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

  • @GoogleMaster, it could be done… those of us in the architecture and planning fields would jump for an a project such as this. All it takes is vision and creativity, which Houston has plenty of. It is an untaped resource really…

    Just look at the demolition of the Ben Milan, that could have been creatively repurposed. The Houston visitors and info. center design. BARF! And now this…

    The most relevant creative artistic expression of the City’s built environment is BBVA Compass Stadium. It is creative, urban, relevant and green. Thereby just recently garnishing national spotlight in building and real estate magazines. We need MORE of thus, not LESS!

  • The other half will be sold to a car dealership……

  • The HLSR has been around for 80 years. Sure, they’ve given $330 million to scholarships, but they also just dropped $43 million for surface parking. I worked in non-profit fundraising for 7 years. That would have NEVER passed our board. That’s a gross misuse of funds. The Board members should be ashamed of themselves. Oh, and I don’t give a damn about the backlash that will come my way from the HLSR mafia crowd.

  • A little reminder, it wasn’t HLSR that tore own Astroworld. That parcel has just been sitting vacant ever since, and they do need more parking for their core function which is putting on the actual livestock show and the actual rodeo. Apparently they feel that this will improve their ability o promote this event.

    Now it would be nice if that land oukd have been used or omething nicer than a parking lot, but I didn’t notice that was happening.

  • The HLSR has been taken over by Yankees who all take themselves far too seriously.

    Yes, it’s all in the name of “scholarship” with a lot of good BS’in, to boot! (pun intended).

    The 2011 “Selena Gomez” show was my last visit ever, and I am a 43 year old Native Houston.

    I remember going to the rodeo in the 70s – on a school night – in February freezing. The entire Spring Fling approach is for the birds.

  • It is the “Good Old Boy” system of doing business.

  • I’ll never forget the Texas Cyclone. The empty lot makes me really sad.

  • Speaking of trolleys, The Wave-Houston’s Jitney Shuttle Service does Rodeo Waves from 2 designated locations each year. This is Armadillo Palace on Kirby & Kung Fu on Washington Ave. But in between people are hopping on by the dozens for us to drive them to that lot. We have been charging our regular $5 one way fare & patrons are thrilled. Maybe we can scale up next year & make it a bigger effort.