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
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.
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
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.
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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
BEYONCé’S DAD COULDN’T FIND THE SCRATCH TO MAKE ASTRODOME SPLASH One of those 19 bids that the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation never really asked for and passed over anyway for its own proposing that the Astrodome be converted into a slimmer, shallower, convention center was submitted, reports the Houston Chronicle’s Kiah Collier, by Beyoncé Knowles’s father. Well, maybe “submitted” is too strong a word: Apparently, Mathew Knowles emailed HCSCC honcho Willie Loston with a promise to email again later with an idea for a Splashtown-like concept for the Dome. But there was never any “financial backing,” reports Collier. (You can almost hear ’em singing: If you liked it, you shoulda tried to pay for it.) Today, the HCSCC will be recommending its $194 million idea to the commissioners court. And where’s that money supposed to come from? Here’s Collier: “Loston said he suspects the court will refer the plan to the county budget or infrastructure office ‘for further study.’ The budget office has said it will look for ways to generate revenue so the county won’t have to ask taxpayers to foot the entire bill.” [Houston Politics; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: HCSCC
UNDER PLAN, ASTRODOME WOULD SLIM DOWN EXTERIOR, SHORTEN UP AND FATTEN INSIDE No, the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation’s estimated $194 million plan to convert the Astrodome into a convention center doesn’t call for the roof to be lowered. Though it does call for the installation of scoreboard-sized glass facing each of the cardinal directions, the removal of ramps and those stair silos, and the introduction of roving marquee spotlights (or so this rendering suggests), it appears that the proposal chosen above all other proposals leaves the exterior mostly alone. Inside the iconic stadium, though, it should be a whole new ballgame: About 60,000 seats will be removed and the sunken floor filled in and raised to be level with the ground, creating a wider space that will also feel flatter, since the ceiling would be 175 ft. high, about 33 ft. lower than it is now. You can read and download the plan in full here. [Scribd via Preservation Houston; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: HCSCC
Houston builders Westin Homes seems to be expanding into the luxury replica spaceship playhouse market — at least this summer, anyway, hooking up with HomeAid Houston to imagineer something like what you see here and display it this June and July at Minute Maid Park. (That’s Astros mascot Orbit peeking out, as though a tad reluctant to deboard.) Of course, the playhouse isn’t just for show: It’ll be raffled off, with proceeds going to HomeAid, and it’ll eventually find its way to someone’s backyard, where the lucky winners will enjoy its
. . . space-themed amenities such as a cockpit complete with swivel seats, ‘rocket booster’-framed windows, a 32” wall mounted LCD TV, an XBox, an MP3 player, an iPod docking station with speakers and interior detailing . . . air conditioning and electricity.
It doesn’t appear that the playhouse will be suitable for actual space travel — but there’s always next year. (As Astros fans well know.) Most recently, the nonprofit HomeAid started construction on those 8 single-mothers’ duplexes on W. Bellfort in Meyerland on St. John’s Presbyterian property.
Rendering: Westin Homes via HomeAid Houston
HATCHING BABY BUSINESSES AT THE ASTRODOME One of those 19 private bids that the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation didn’t quite get around to asking for and yet still received just in time for Monday’s deadline comes from entrepreneur Tim Trae Tindall, who suggests that the Astrodome might be the perfect environment to trap heat — so to speak — as a business incubator: Click2Houston’s Gianna Caserta reports that Tindall’s bid for this “one-stop shop location” would provide “consultants, restaurants, investors, IT support, and office space. There would even be an extended-stay area for visitors to have accommodations while scoping out the Houston business climate.” (Having investors there on the spot? Now that beats cold calling.) Tindall, who says he’s trying to raise the money to fund the project, seems to think that a fledgling business would be drawn almost naturally to the decaying Dome: “What we intend to do is seize upon the notoriety of Houston’s greatest landmark.” [Click2Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Allyn West
Let’s do 2: As construction at U of H on the $105 million no-name replacement football stadium plows on, the regents have decided to go ahead and redo the basketball arena, too. It probably won’t look like this; the rendering shown here has been circulating since February. No, the regents’ decision this past Monday really means that other, newer designs will be undertaken to freshen up the 43-year-old Hofheinz Pavilion — where fashion mogul and Houston real estate player Hakeem Olajuwon first honed his shakes before opening his DR34M store in the old Jim West Mansion in Clear Lake.
The Houston Chronicle reports that, if approved, the project — which some reports have costing as much as $77 million — would introduce nicer locker rooms for the players and “premium seating” for fans, as well as a new sound system and video boards above the court. UH athletic director Mack Rhoades tells the Chronicle that as many as 9 other schools in the newly formed American Athletic Conference have, or are building, new arenas.
Rendering: UH Athletics
ASTRODOME STRIPPED BARE BY THE ARCHITECTS, EVEN With the June 10th deadline to submit the Astrodome proposals that the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation kind of forgot to ask for approaching, architect Ben Koush pens some poetic support for UH grad student Ryan Slattery’s idea to open the Dome up for public use and reduce it to a shell of itself: “Architects, myself included, often tend to like ‘structure’ and buildings that are under construction better than those that are finished. Even crappy suburban spec houses have a noble purity when they are just a concrete slab and 2x4s, before the pipes, wires, and air-conditioning ducts go in and clutter everything up.” Noble purity notwithstanding, Koush does recognize at least one problem: “Since the Astrodome is essentially in the center of a giant parking lot with gates as well as a long, un-shaded walk discouraging the public from visiting, one wonders who would actually use [it].” [Arts + Culture Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Save the Astrodome
COULD THE X GAMES BE COMING TO HOUSTON? Even if the Astrodome’s still around and Houston’s bid to host the 2016 Super Bowl falls through, an important international competition might still be staged here: “ESPN said in January [that] Houston was one of 13 contenders it was considering as a host” for the 2014-2016 X Games, reports the Houston Business Journal’s Bayan Raji. The Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark on Sabine St. (shown here) is at the center of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority bid to put on the tricksters’ event that’s been in L.A. the past 9 years, writes Raji, along with Reliant Stadium and the Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium. Whether the skatepark going up in Greenspoint, billed in January as the largest in the U.S., also figures in the bid Raji doesn’t say; ESPN will announce which of the 13 cities are finalists this spring. [Houston Business Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo: David Fross
HERE, NOW, A FEW MORE IDEAS FOR THE ASTRODOME Making the rounds this week are a couple more long shots for the Astrodome from people who don’t seem very keen on the 2,500 parking spaces the Texans and Rodeo proposed last week. First, you’ve got Ed Seale and his wife of “Keep the Astrodome,” who say they want to see the ol’ thing renovated into an global bazaar, reports KUHF’s Jack Williams, “a space filled with international, ethnic, cultural and business organizations . . . and ethnic restaurants.” And then there’s the UH graduate student Ryan Slattery, whose friend leaked online parts of his architecture master’s thesis that calls for the big baby to be stripped to a skeleton and used as greenspace: “If you don’t need it,” Slattery tells KHOU’s Jeremy Desel, “it does not need to be there. It is never going to be a stadium again. So you don’t need the seats. You need to take those seats out. Concrete on the facade? You don’t need that.” Adds Slattery: “If and when the Astrodome does come down you will see a grown man cry.” [KUHF; KHOU; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Swamplot inbox
ROGER GOODELL: 2,500 EXTRA PARKING SPACES DOES SOUND PRETTY GOOD The study paid for by the Texans and the Rodeo that found the Astrodome could be torn down and replaced with 2,500 parking spots for $29 million — the one Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he’s putting on his shelf — has apparently made its way to the desk of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who seems to have crunched the numbers in light of Houston’s impending bid to host the 2017 Super Bowl. Goodell, reports the Houston Chronicle‘s John McClain, says he doesn’t want to get involved in the dome demo drama right before getting involved: “That issue is for the community to decide, but I think having an extra 2,500 parking spaces would enhance Houston’s bid.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Russell Hancock
JUDGE EMMETT NOT IMPRESSED BY TEXANS, RODEO PLAN TO DEMOLISH THE ASTRODOME A study paid for by the Houston Texans and the Livestock Show and Rodeo has determined that tearing down the Astrodome will cost a hair more than $29 million, reports Fox 26, but Harris County judge Ed Emmett doesn’t seem all that moved by the study’s finding: “Unless there’s something there I didn’t see when it came across my desk, all I saw were two or three options for how to demolish it and turn it into a parking lot. I know that’s their position. I’m not denigrating it, but that doesn’t really move the ball anywhere.” And what’s Emmett going to do with the study? “Read it and put it on a shelf. . . . It’s not meaningful at all.” [Fox 26; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Candace Garcia