One of the most famous pictures in Houston history shows Judge Roy Hofheinz firing a six-shooter into dirt at the Astrodome's groundbreaking. Whatever the opposite of that iconic images is, that's what happened Tuesday as an excavator took down one of the old ticket booths in a process that Harris County Sports Convention Corporation chairman Edgar Colon calls "site improvments."
Whether or not Harris County voters approve the $217 million bond issue to build the New Dome Experience, the current demolition activity will remove everything up to the "perimeter of the building." That include ticket booths, berms and the tall circular towers that surround the Dome itself. The process will also remove the asbestos that's found in the building, the condition of which Colon describes as "not that bad."
Asked why he thinks voters should approve the plan that will add $8 per year to the property taxes on a typical $200,000 house, Colon argues that the plan provides for a "very flexible space (that provides) great possibilities for conventions." He notes that the annual Offshore Technology Conference has to set up displays in tents and has a waiting list. All of that business could come inside the Dome if voters approve the plan.
Colon says that voters have already invested in the building, which he describes as both "good" and "sound." The plan is an opportunity for them to invest in its future. As to why the work began now, Colon maintains that the goal is "to have everything done for the Super Bowl" in 2017.
What other sort of events could a renovated Astrodome help bring to Houston? One reporter even suggested a Summer Olympics — which Colon loved, of course.
"The sky's the limit," he says.