SBD/June 20, 2013/Facilities

Local Government Group Recommends Turning Astrodome Into Convention/Exhibition Hall

The Harris County (Texas) Sports & Convention Corp. yesterday recommended converting the Reliant Astrodome "into a massive convention and exhibit space," according to a front-page piece by Kiah Collier of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The move comes two months after the agency called on Houston residents to "submit proposals for redeveloping" the stadium. HCSCC Exec Dir Willie Loston said that the group introduced its own $194M idea after "none of the 19 privately submitted ideas for repurposing the 48-year-old landmark met required criteria, which included private funding and compatibility with lease agreements with the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/20). Loston said, "We feel we have the best idea. That idea is a space that will allow many of the ideas that the proposals brought forward to take place." In Houston, Matt Schwartz reported the facility's seating would be "removed and the existing below-ground portion of the stadium would be filled in to create a street-level exhibit space of 355,000 square feet." The proposal will be "officially presented to Harris County Commissioners Court at its June 25 capital improvement projects meeting" (CHRON.com, 6/19). The AP's Juan Lozano reported among the "private plans was one that would have turned the Astrodome into a tourist area with retail and restaurant space and another that would have stripped the structure to its steel frame and turned the area into a park" (AP, 6/19).

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN: NBC's Brian Williams noted the National Trust For Historic Preservation has placed the Astrodome on its most recent list of the "most endangered places" in the U.S. The stadium has been "abandoned for years," and a "buyer and a new life of some sort." is being sought. Williams: "It's now dilapidated and unsafe, with pieces falling down, the seats rotting and the Astroturf now looking like an old, worn, torn-up green carpeting that it now is" ("Nightly News," NBC, 6/19).
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