HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – A deadline regarding the future of the eighth wonder of the world is looming. A decision on the Astrodome’s fate could come as early as next month. The Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation, which manages Reliant Park,will be responsible for making a decision regarding the 48-year old Astrodome. Judge Ed Emmett joined SportsRadio 610’s In The Loop on Wednesday and said all the speculation on the Astrodome would be coming to a head by June 25th, regardless of Monday’s news of Super Bowl 51 returning to Reliant Arena in 2017.
“City doesn’t have anything to do with it. It’s a county decision and we have a definite timeline. That’s what’s interesting. The Super Bowl – everybody keeps saying, ‘oh that has something to do with it.’ No, not at all. By June 10, the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation (HCSSC), which is an arm of the county, has a deadline for any private interest that want to come forward with an idea with money. A lot of people have great ideas, but none of them have any money tied to them yet. ”
The HCSSC set the June 10th deadline for receiving proposals for the Dome back in April, before Houston was awarded its third Super Bowl but still under consideration. If a private party comes forward now and offers a proposed solution with the necessary funds, the Astrodome’s future would be set.
“If somebody on a private sector came forward and said, ‘ok, we’ve got $500 million and we want to convert the Dome into this’ and it doesn’t interfere with the Livestock Show & Rodeo or the Texans, that’s the ideal,” Judge Emmett said.
“I don’t anticipate that happening but if it did and that happens by June 10th, then we all clap hands and sing Kumbaya.”
If a private donor does not come forward, then the HCSSC has a June 25th deadline to present its own solution to the Commissioners Court which is presided over by Judge Emmett. Emmett’s said he was partial to a proposal that would leave part of the Astrodome still in tact.
“I’ve talked about it for three years. Stripping out the Dome, leaving the shell, making it a place or venue for gatherings and festivals that could be used for tailgate activities, Livestock Show & Rodeo could use it, wouldn’t interfere with walking pedestrians,” Emmett said of the idea that has gotten much media attention lately as a compromise between keeping the Dome and demolishing it altogether.
Regardless of the which idea the HCSSC presents, Judge Emmett said the Commissioners Court would consider the final proposal and estimate the costs to implement it. Voters could see a bond referendum on their ballots next year.
“We would then go to the voters and say, ‘Here’s our suggestion. If you like it, fine. If you don’t, the Dome’s coming down.’ We are not allowed, under state law, to give options, ” Emmett said.
So while voters can decide if their money will be used on a particular proposal for the Astrodome, they will not be able to pick which proposal they like best. Either way, Judge Emmett assured that the dilapidated Astrodome will be refurbished or demolished before the Super Bowl returns to Reliant Stadium in 2017.