Wonder or eyesore?
Cairo has the Pyramids. Paris has the Eiffel Tower. London boasts of Big Ben while St. Louis touts the Gateway Arch.
Houston has a signature symbol, too — the Astrodome — but we don't know what to do with it.
Ever since Bud Adams abandoned the Astrodome, taking his Oilers to Nashville in 1996, and the Astros followed a few years later with their own move to a downtown stadium, Harris county officials have tried to figure out what to do with the structure that, depending who you're talking to is either:
a) a symbol of Houston's glorious history, or
b) a costly white elephant.
The latest scenario, released today, is a $1.35 billion plan to convert the dome into a convention and science center as part of a redevelopment plan that would add a 1,500-room hotel and demolish Reliant Arena. But it would require voter approval for up to $900 million in taxpayer financing, so the odds of it happening anytime soon falls somewhere between slim and none.
The plan is one of three options commissioned by Harris County Commissioners Court, which is responsible for upkeep of the dome. I've always been partial to the concept of turning the dome into a movie studio, although I'm not sure how feasible it is, either.
It would cost $128 million to demolish the dome and create an outdoor plaza. And doing nothing costs nearly $5 million a year, for debt and interest payments, insurance, and maintenance, as the building crumbles.
It's a quandary. How much is Houston history worth? Any ideas on what we should do with the dome?