Down the home stretch

Astrodome debate continues: 19 ideas for redo; nominated to National Register of Historic Places

19 ideas for Astrodome redo; nominated to Historic Places register

Astrodome line drawing sketch
Courtesy photo

Lots of plans are circulating to renovate the Astrodome. Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp., said the entity received 19 proposals before the Monday midnight deadline, the Houston Chronicle reports.

He did not list the proposals or indicate if any had financial backing. All options, including a public-use plan developed by HCSCC staff, will be presented to the agency's board of directors on June 19. They will forward viable plans to the Harris County Commissioners Court on June 25.

Among plans that received attention are stripping the 9-acre structure down to its steel frame and turning the base into a park and creating a "tourist mecca' with retail and restaurant space, along with a 12,000-seat pavilion to replace Reliant Arena.

 "We’ve heard the Astrodome is “falling apart,” that it’s 'rotting' — but steel and concrete don’t rot and it’s a masterwork of construction." 

CultureMap contributor Cynthia Neely, a longtime proponent of saving the Astrodome, urged the Harris County Commissioners Court Tuesday to hire structural engineer Lorrie Foreman to evaluate the Dome’s condition and estimate the cost to make the most minimal repairs. Foreman oversaw the transformation of the Compaq Center into Lakewood Church.

"An expert lives in Houston yet she’s never been consulted about the Astrodome. Why not?" Neely said. "We’ve heard the Astrodome is “falling apart,” that it’s 'rotting' — but steel and concrete don’t rot and it’s a masterwork of construction. We deserve to know the truth about its condition if you expect us to continue to pay for it."

(Neely was formerly a partner in a proposal to transform the Astrodome into a movie studio, but left that project nearly four years ago and has no vested interest in it.)

Neely had joined forces with Ted Powell, whose grass roots organization, Friends of Sylvan Beach, was instrumental is preventing the historic pavilion from being demolished. They have nominated the Astrodome for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.  The Texas Historical Commission will present the nomination to its State Board of Review on Oct. 19.

"Achieving federal and state historical status opens the doors to sources of funding for the building’s disciplined restoration and respectful repurposing for future generations of Houstonians and visitors to this great city to enjoy," she said.