Noticing the Astrodome-Arena Bait-and-Switch

NOTICING THE ASTRODOME-ARENA BAIT-AND-SWITCH A major focus of the report on the future of the Astrodome endorsed this week by the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. was a proposal to spend an additional $385 million to replace the neighboring 1974-vintage Reliant Arena. (That’s almost $115 million more than the estimated $270.3 million the team of consultants estimated it would take to raise the floor of the Astrodome and turn it into a smaller “multi-purpose” facility.) And of course, county budget officials are quick to shoot down the resulting proposed $523 million tax-supported bond issue for a new county building, even if the name “Astrodome” is attached to it. But a comment from Ed Emmett quoted in today’s Chronicle makes it appear the county judge wants to call the bluff: “‘The way it was trotted out, we’re going to re-purpose the Dome and we’re going to replace the arena with a new building,’ Emmett said. ‘If we’re doing that, why don’t we use the Dome for the purposes the arena was being used for? Because that would obviously cost less.'” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Wikimedia Commons [license]

15 Comment

  • Those were my thoughts exactly, Ed.

  • No worries, it’ll come out in the later depositions.

  • The douche bag con artists, aka our ELECTED officials, will find a way ,even if it is illegal,build this boondoggle.Of course, the voters will be pissed and do NOTHING about it.

  • Let’s not forget the 1 BILLION plus of bond debt for Toyota Center, Reliant Center,et al. And hotel/rental car taxes are less than the as always rosy projections used to justify the building of those structures.

  • If someone gave me $50 million I could have that dome gone by Sunday. Half that and I could get it done by the middle of next week.

  • Lost in all of the numbers is that Toyota Center was built for approx. $210 million less than 10 years ago!!
    Reliant Stadium was only approx. $350 million.
    Much is being made of the Arena, but the only use is for horse & livestock shows during the Rodeo, as well as hosting the Livestock Auctions. The Rodeo only needs cosmetic updates, not a new 10,000 person facility.
    The proposals are rediculous, and only a way for the neww Sports Corp. to justify their jobs & existence.

  • I say demo the Dome and build a new park, similar to Discovery Green. Include a scaled replica of the Dome for kids to play in.

  • If someone just gave me $50 million, I’d structure a perpetuity yielding no less than a 1.2% return (which shouldn’t be at all difficult when 30-year T-bonds yield a 2.85% return) and maintain the Dome FOREVER.

    I say this because I recall a Chronicle article citing a cost of $600,000 per year to maintain it in mothballs. That’s just not very much money.

    Unless there’s a pressing need to spend $140 per square foot to reclaim the land (which would be idiotic given that Astroworld sold its land for $17 PSF and that the Reliant Arena is also on the chopping block and would yield more land), then the only thing that could possibly make sense is to do nothing. Simply wait.

    Then… Allow the first private concern that can pony up the cash to do something appropriate with the venue that will generate hotel and/or sales tax revenue gets to caputure the $600k per year for themselves. I suspect that it wouldn’t take particularly long. And then the taxpayers come out AHEAD as compared to demolishing it and the politicians get to take well-deserved credit.

  • * The private entity would capture AT LEAST $600k per year, probably more like 2.5 times that amount given current treasury yields.

    ** Also, I’d like to add that the vitriol over this subject reflects that constitutents are fucking stupid and that among the most important things that we can teach our children is corporate finance. Democracy fails us, otherwise.

  • In the current political climate, no one in state, county or municipal government would dare talk about raising taxes in a bond issue (or otherwise) for schools, libraries, parks, pension liabilities, public transportation or public safety. But, Harris County officials are actually keeping a straight face while talking about a 500 mil to 1 bil bond for some coo coo for cocoa puffs plan to save the Astro Dome AND build a new facility to replace Reliant Arena.

  • To “TheNiche”, you have the most level headed thinking on this issue! Can you write that up for a letter to the Chronicle? Maybe someone will actually notice. I wondered myself what the Arena is used for besides the rodeo and maybe a few jewelry shows or tractor pulls…

  • @ Old School: What the heck are you talking about? The public is perfectly willing to back a cause and spend money, especially if they feel like their team will be calling the shots. (ex. Prop 1 Drainage Fee, METRO Solutions, various Management Districts, various 4A/4B sales taxes, Cy-Fair ISD’s $75 million stadium complex and many like it, statewide, et al.)

  • I guess I shouldn’t get my heart set on the planetarium idea, huh? But wouldn’t that be amazing with the rodeo inside of it?

  • A new Reliant Arena isn’t needed at all. The Dome could be the new Reliant Arena. And it could be larger or even smaller as well. Ever heard of the Saitama Super Arena?!? It uses movable seating sections which can change the seating capacity from as large as 37,000 seats to small as 9,000 seats. Use the floor for exhibition space as well. A true multipurpose convention & entertainment venue hosing a multitude of events.

  • It’s amazing that we had these debates 12 years ago. I remember the proposals quite well. Thousands of dollars were spent on artistic renderings. Then it went quiet for 10 years. Now that it’s obvious that SOMETHING has to be done with the Dome before it falls in on itself, the debate begins again.