In Focus

Price cut in proposal to implode Astrodome may reignite debate over its future

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

There's been a price cut in a proposal to implode the Astrodome. The cost could reignite the controversial debate over whether to repurpose or demolish the iconic structure.

The new proposal comes from the Texans and the rodeo. They hired the dome's original engineer, who suggests it would cost just $29 million to implode the dome and pave over the place. Incidentally, that's just $2 million less than the dome cost to build.

Last year, another report priced the same option at $64 million. Sprucing the place up in to a hotel and conference center would cost $600 million.

Decades ago, it was a huge point of pride for Space City. But it's been a long time since the Astrodome has brought revenue into Houston's economy.

The Astros last called it home field in 1999. It's been closed to the public since 2009 after it was deemed too dangerous to occupy in its current state. Now the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo want to push the discussion along to do something.

"These buildings aren't going to magically reverse their pattern of deterioration," Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation's Willie Loston told Eyewitness News in May 2012.

When the last round of dome plans were presented nearly a year ago, it seemed there was pressure to do something fast.

"The sooner some action is taken to reverse the trend that we're in right now, the better we're going to be in the long haul," Loston said.

But the $600 million plan to refurbish the dome revealed last year was too expensive at the time. The $60 million plan to demolish the dome was too much for county commissioners, too. So they waited. And since then, the dome has gotten worse and so has the urgency from Texans owner Bob McNair, who's now pushing for another Super Bowl.

"We need to come to the conclusion as to what's going to be done with the Astrodome," McNair told us in October. "It's not a pretty sight sitting there now and it's noticeable and people comment on it, so we need to make those decisions and move on."

That's part of the reason the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo commissioned the study last year to get a new number for an old option in the discussion: a plan to implode and pave the one time paradise for the seemingly bargain basement price of just $29 million.

If the dome is torn down, it would join a long list of once-revered stadiums of dreams that have now turned into dust. Since 1999 when the Astros played their last game, stadiums in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Seattle and Cowboy Stadium in Irving, among others, have been torn down -- all while Harris County taxpayers have paid $2.4 million a year to keep the dome from falling down.

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houston texans, houston livestock show and rodeo, rodeo houston, in focus, ted oberg
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