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Dome Troubles

Paving over the Astrodome to put up a parking lot: Demolition debate heats up again

It's a common point of agreement that something should be done with the crumbling Astrodome, but what exactly that action is has been a topic of hot debate even before the iconic stadium's final official closure in 2006. 

The Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are the most recent to weigh in, presenting a study to the Harris County Commissioners that proposes the simplest of solutions: Pave over the 9.5-acre plot for additional parking at Reliant Park.

 As much as we hate the sore sight of a once-notable structure falling into ruin, the thought of yet another surface lot sounds unappealing.  

Like any suggestion made about the relic's future, the idea has been met with resistance from the public — but at an estimated cost of just over $29 million (a figure that was first reported in CultureMap network news director Chris Baldwin's Feb. 26 column calling for the demolition of the dome), the implosion and parking lot conversion is certainly the cheapest of the options.

A three-prong recommendation presented to the Harris County Commissioners last summer suggested converting the historic space into a multipurpose facility (for a cost of $270.3 million), building a replacement performance arena (for $385.4 million) or demolishing the building altogether, putting in its place a Reliant Park Plaza (for $63.9 million).

As much as we hate the sore sight of a once-notable structure falling into ruin, the thought of yet another surface lot sounds unappealing. Nor does Harris County judge Ed Emmett seem convinced. 

"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," Emmett told Fox 26 News

One goal is to have a plan in place by next year when Houston's final proposal must be submitted for its bid to host the 2017 Super Bowl. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said that more parking spots by Reliant Stadium would help Houston's Super bid.

Want more? Read the contrasting viewpoints of Baldwin's column on the need to tear down the Astrodome and CultureMap contributor James Glassman's plea to save what he calls "Houston's Eiffel Tower" at all costs.

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