Reliant Park and Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. officials haven’t announced how they intend to demolish the Astrodome’s 4 exterior towers. But on Friday, a city permit was granted for “Implosion of the Helixes at the Astrodome.” Kaboom! The towers, which contain helical ramps for visitors to walk or roll up and crowd down, were added to the Astrodome in 1989 to comply with then-new accessibility regulations. The work coincided with the removal of the original outfield scoreboard and its replacement with 15,000 new seats, at the instigation of Houston Oilers’ owner Bud Adams. Why are the towers going away?
Harris County commissioners approved $8 million for the removal of the ramp towers and other parts of the structure back in July, at the request of supporters of the “New Dome Experience” plan, which would have converted the multi-level stadium to a single-story convention-center and event space. But the renovation plan was defeated at the polls earlier this month. Also approved and paid for: demo of the ticket booths, concrete ramps, substations, transmission lines, and grass berms surrounding the Dome, none of which would have been needed if the renovation plan had been approved by voters. Demolition of many of those Astroparts began before votes were even counted.
Back in October, when many supporters of keeping the Dome were more eager to narrow the alternatives to the bond-supported renovation on the ballot and demolition, Reliant Park general manager Mark Miller said the exterior features approved for removal presented “some safety and health issues” as well. And Judge Emmett told radio reporters he considered the demolition work to be “improvements” to the building that “probably should have been made a long time ago.” The disappearance of the towers could narrow the number of remaining possibilities for the Dome’s reuse, however, and bring to the aging structure the heady atmosphere of a demolition site.
- Astrodome coverage [Swamplot]