Real Estate 2012
Two solutions in one

Astrodome Arena? Officials look at yet another idea to save Houston's blighted, beloved landmark

Astrodome Arena? Officials look at yet another idea to save Houston's blighted, beloved landmark

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In its prime, the Astrodome was considered an engineering feat.  Baseball Fever
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Judge Ed Emmett compared the iconic stadium to the Eiffel Tower.  Photo by Jack Opatrany/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
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After what seems like the umpteenth study on what to do with the blighted, beloved Astrodome, the Harris County Commissioners Court was confronted on Tuesday with not a single solution — but instead, yet another option. 

The Associated Press reports that, when the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation (HCSSC) presented the court with a master plan analysis report by a team of consultants led by Convention Sports and Leisure, Judge Ed Emmett proposed that two of the consultants' final recommendations be combined into one. 

The HCSSC had accepted the report, which outlines four options for the unused facility and the surrounding Reliant Park, in May.

 "Why would you tear down the Astrodome and then build something completely new, versus converting the Astrodome into the replacement of the arena?," asked Judge Ed Emmett.

The two recommendations in question involve converting the decaying Astrodome into a 300,000 square foot multipurpose facility for exhibitions, conventions and other events (the cost of repairs and renovations —which include removing seats, upgrading systems and repairing the roof and exterior skin — would set the county back an estimated $270 million), and erecting a 10,000-seat performance arena with exhibit space, ballrooms, meeting and plaza areas to replace the existing (but infrequently used) Reliant Arena at an estimated cost of $385 million.

Emmet wants to explore the option of constructing a new arena inside of the Astrodome. 

"We have a lot of people who do want to keep the Astrodome," Emmett said on Tuesday. "We have some people who want to tear down the Astrodome."

"But in replacing the arena," he continued, "I think the question that everybody is going to have to answer, and clearly not this morning, is why would you tear down the Astrodome and then build something completely new, versus converting the Astrodome into the replacement of the arena?"

Predictably, the commissioners took no action on moving forward with the master plan analysis.

An agreement likely won't come anytime soon, either: Edgar Colon, HCSCC chairman, believes that Emmett's newly-proposed option (which, "very preliminarily," is estimated to cost $400 million) may further slow the process.