How Harris County Starved the Astrodome

HOW HARRIS COUNTY STARVED THE ASTRODOME It’s not that county officials weren’t looking for some big new thing to do with it, argues Cynthia Neeley. The big problem was they stopped taking care of it while they waited for the sports stadium’s grand new future to arrive: “Let’s add up just a few things: $18.8 million for the lease buy-out, $517,000 for repairs to qualify for temporary occupancy for the Rodeo, $3,210 for that final inspection and permit, $50,000 for a workshop to study future use of the Astrodome, $50,000 more for consultants to study the workshop study; grand total is $19,420,210. . . . Does it bother anyone else that . . . the Sports & Convention Corporation spent that whopping amount and we still have a building doing nothing? And that millions upon millions of potential revenue have been lost? And that whatever grand plan is in its future is going to cost us millions more? In 2007, the year before Astrodome was closed, there were only seven events in the building for a paltry annual net income of $103,596.  Did anybody see ads that the Dome was available for lease for private parties or events? Were there promotions or incentives publicized? Did anyone know that you could have rented the field for a bar mitzvah? (Someone actually did, for a reported $15-18,000.)” [Culturemap; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Jeff Balke

17 Comment

  • Sweet photo!

  • I find the good ol’ boy thing here in Harris County a relic of days past that just won’t die. Harris County has more than its fair share of officials who are all about self-interests at the county’s expense.

  • This is a perfect counter argument to all those history lovers that say Houston is devoid of historical preservation. In this case, the county is just continuing the time-honored tradition of pissing away taxpayer money on the 8th Wonder…remember Judge Hofheinz’s private suite?

  • Just tear the thing down already. It’s way past it’s prime, it’s ugly, and an eyesoar to an already blighted area. Make more parking, or make some type of venue that we can enjoy. For God’s sake – there are weeds growing out of the roof. Dallas didn’t waste anytime in getting rid of Texas Stadium – say what you will about Dallas vs. Houston. But, they get things done there – I’m a native Houstonian btw.

  • If you like the photo you will definately like the artwork done by James Glassman who does a digital print on aluminum of the ceiling. I am sure you can google to find a picture if not there is a 48″ piece hanging at Anvil Bar.

  • Wayne Dolcefino are you listening, might be time to get the cameras rollin’

    Bet there is a tie between members of the authority and those hired to do the consulting and the consultant hired to translate the consulting.

    Geeze where does this end.

  • RW, sounding the same arguments used before demolition of Penn Station NY, Erie County Savings in Buffalo, Ursuline School in Galveston, etc.

  • RW – Texas Stadium was in Irving, and Jerry World is in Arlington.

    But, uh, yea – “Dallas” gets things done compared to Houston.

  • The idea that there is anything but demolition in the Dome’s future is ludicrous. Let’s just get it done. Its a great site! Do something with it

  • There was a story in the Houston Chronicle last year stating that it would cost approximately 100 million dollars to demolish the Dome because of asbestos.

  • Not a native Houstonian here (D/FW), but the vacancy of Texas Stadium is still very strange when driving past that site, nevertheless, it was right to knock it down, and it seems appropriate to knock down the Astrodome. I am all for historical preservation, but the money doesn’t add up on this one and the place is not aging well. Turn it into a park ala Discovery Green with Astrodome qualities ~ sky light infused art work, a dome shaped hill full of wildflowers and landscaping with tunnels, corridors, and seating looking up to the sky (think James Turrell), just please do something inventive and unique that will carry on the good memories and spirit of the architectural 8th wonder.

  • 100 million??? I heard that ridiculous number thrown around. I am in the demolition industry and heck, I would do it for 50 million and bond the project! No stadium demolition, domed or otherwise has cost anywhere close to 100 million. I am not a proponent of getting rid of our landmarks but what has happened to the dome is a shame. It is now is going to come down to simple economics, but realistic numbers must be used to determine what course should be taken. Our local officials need to be held accountable for the waste of our taxpayer money.

  • So, is the Carnival back in the dome this year? I liked when the Hideout was in the dome. I believe that made the dome the largest bar in the world.

  • @Chris the article mentions that the Dome has not been usable since 2008. It has been closed for fire code violations that will cost by some estimates 30 million to fix which the county is not going to cover.

  • It’s a shame.
    I’m a proponent of saving The Dome, but it may just be time to face the fact, it’s too late.

    Even if during the boom times, nobody could come up with an idea or the cash to save it, it seems extremely doubtful something could save it now.

    Anyway, tear it down and do something wonderful in its place.

    It still looks better than Reliant Stadium, which looks like every other sports stadium, just not as good.

    Houston MUST stop doing average or below average. We don’t have anything else, so we have to go over the top with what we build. We should have pulled out all the bells and whistles on Reliant and that entire area, including restoration of the bayou. Now it’s just eh.

  • The Astrodome was improperly maintained all the way back to the final days of the Oilers. You can not hope to rejuvenate a building that under Drayton’s watch was starved of even the most basic of proper repairs. I do understand some people’s sentimentality, but the blame on the stadium’s condition goes back to the 1990’s. There was nothing anyone could do to revive it without sinking a boatload of money into it. And with the economy the way it is good luck finding a sucker willing to invest in it. The problem is no elected official wants to be the one that signed it’s death warrant. Which, will also come with backlash. This is what Houston has let happen. Standstill. Don’t expect it to change lol.

  • The Astrodome would make a fine intermodal transit center for the south side such as envisioned for the Burnett Intermodal transit center on the north side of Houston. This site could be the Grand Central station for the southern region of Harris County and adjacent counties. It should incorporate light rail connection, city and highway bus transfer connections with park and ride facilities. It should plan for interurban commuter rail connections to Galveston, airports and cruise lines. There would be at least three levels with rail at the lowest level, Bus, bus transfer and taxi service at mid level and a concourse with shops and restaurants at the upper level. Houston Metro would run the facility. This is my vision for a viable future for the Astrodome.