Adding Up the Astrodollars

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

23 Comment

  • Ha! Since when any government run project was self sufficient, or didn’t run way over budget, or had any sort of lingering efficiency.

  • The new Dome Experience will make the Astrodome famous again. Holding a convention or special event in a place that has some historic relevance will enhance the experience. SAVE THE DOME!

  • I assume studies have been done that found a demand for extra convention space…?

    Maybe we could make the Dome a kind of city mausoleum for local sports dignitaries. We could bury Bum Phillips there. We could bury Bud Adams beneath the men’s room urinals. We could designate a burial spot for all of Houston’s championship dreams. That would take up the bulk of it.

    Turning it into a parking garage would not only make practical sense, it would make a perfect homage to the local culture.

  • nice math

  • so it’s a 217 million dollar bond. the income will be 4 million a year but the cost to make that is 3.9 million? so the tax payers are on the hook for 217 million to make 100k? not including the “economic impact” of conventions…

  • If those with a vested interest in this vote say it will barely be self sufficient you know that means it will be a giant hole.

    It’s a shame to, for $200+ million think of how many parks we can build in Harris County. Instead we will have a unused convention center that once looked like a sports stadium.

  • I will not vote for this proposal as it does not involve an indoor ski mountain.

  • Simple question one should ask. If a private firm wanted to redevelop the Dome at a coast 217 million and would only profit 100 thousand a year off of it, would they ever get a loan for such a project? The answer is no, which is exactly what my answer will be on my ballot.

  • Screw the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation… those guys are taxpayer parasites.

  • Governments don’t run like a business as there is no competition or market pressure to deliver goods and services that provide a value equal to or above the cost in taxes to provide them.
    Our tax dollars are not treated like precious limited resources handed over by a collective group of citizens so that general welfare can be provided. Rather, they’re all too often wasted and spent based on political whims and who has connections.
    I’m not an expert in the politics and ownership of the dome, but couldn’t it just be auctioned off and sold? The whoever bought it could invest their own private (raised) capital to do whatever would generate the most return? This would likely also end up being the best use of the dome since someone with their money on the line is going to make sure they turn the thing into something that’ll provide the biggest benefit to the city (since you can’t make revenue w/o someone giving you their dollars in exchange for you providing a product or service — value).

  • Liftin’ a glass to all my dead Domies. That’s one bitter tax pill to subsidize OTC. It would be more honest to buy the business outright.

  • i think the new dome experience should include a jazzed up exterior of rainbows and unicorns and an aura of sparkly glitter! then the city will make even more money$$$$$! In fact money might spew out of the top of “the monument!” enough already….prep the dozers….

  • Good point Cody. Why cant we sell the Dome? Even if it is sold for peanuts, at least Houstonians no longer have that liability and cost around their neck.

  • I’m with Cody, I’m sure there are enough private entities interested in buying the dome eager to develop it with their own money. Is there a reason this isn’t an option? The sooner taxpayer dollars are spared from sinking money into this the better. I’m all for saving the dome, but if this generic, uninspired New Dome experience goes forward, I predict a flop.

  • Interesting to see they project the Dome to “break even” on an annual basis. Curious, does this expense include the bond (aka the mortage) payments?

    If so, the redeveloped Dome pays itself off theoretically. And us, the Harris County taxpayers, are the loan’s guarantors. If and when the Dome can’t afford the debt service, the county (us) foots the bill. If the revitalized Dome could pay for itself, I am 100% for repurposing the Dome.

    But, if the annual $3.9 budget doesn’t consider the debt service, the Dome’s days are probably numbered. Or the County needs to the revitalization more economical, $200 million seems pretty steep.

  • No one has been able to come up with a viable use for the dome. The county wants us to give them over 200 million to renovate the facility and they say it might break even.
    When has any project like this broken even.
    There are not enough large scale events to justify the exposure to failure this represents. I think it’s time to cut our losses, quit being Pollyanna’s and move on.
    There are just too many things that don’t add up.
    The reason no one else in the business community has been able to come up with any reasonable moneymaking venture is because of its location, size, and unorthodox scale which renders it unmarketable. So why should we be expected to support the bond issue?
    Good question. It’s not like we won a Super Bowl or World Series in it. It’s not a holy shrine but it has become an eyesore.

  • Putting the Dome up for sale? Why not. Detroit sold the Pontiac Silverdome for about $250,000 a few years ago. Sell the Astrodome for a low price and let the new owners assume the outstanding debt. The county wins by being relieved of approx. $35 million in debt and saves the expense (and public outcry) of demolishing the Dome (aka the 8th Wonder of the World). Just don’t let the Texans and or the Rodeo buy it and just flatten it for parking.

  • @Blake
    I think that we’re voting for raising our tax bill to pay the bond. The break-even calculation seems to be separate from the bond payment. I think.

  • Let’s hope the Dome doesn’t turn into a situation like the Harris County/Bayport Cruise terminal… =/

  • It would be interesting to know if the GRB makes or loses money annually. If the profit margins on the GRB are as razor thin as this, and the new and improved Astrodome takes away 20% of the GRB’s business, then we’re really in the hole.

  • If the government math says break-even, you know it will be a boondoggle. I am not voting to ship new tax dollars for this “Experience”.

  • Frank,

    I think your right, taxes will be paying off the construction bond. (ie. the Dome’s revenue pays off the operating cost but not the debt service).

    Using some quick math, the County will paying at least $7.2 million a year (assuming no compounding interest and a 30 year bond).

    It should be noted, the County is asking for permission to “borrow up to $217 million”. In my humble opinion, they need to present a more economical plan.

  • Has Mr. Colon pledged his pension and benefits to any shortfall in the “operating costs” of the monstrosity?