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HOUSTON (AP) — Harris County leaders are asking for further study on a plan to turn the deteriorating Houston Astrodome into a giant convention center and exhibition space.
County commissioners during a meeting Tuesday in Houston voted to have the budget office, the county attorney and the public infrastructure department review the proposal, which could take a month or so.
Last week, the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. voted to recommend the project. Officials say it would cost an estimated $194 million and take about 2½ years to complete.
If the plan is accepted by commissioners, funding for it would likely have to be approved through a bond election.
The stadium has been vacant since 2009, when it was deemed unfit for occupancy. The Houston Astros moved out in 2000.
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The Astrodome moved one step closer to a resolution regarding its fate. On Tuesday, the County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to send the Astrodome proposal to multiple county agencies for review. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said he expects it to be back in front of them in about a month.
“I think it probably makes more sense if you are going to do it, to do sooner rather than later so if the plan passes Commissi0ner’s Court, and if the plan is approved by the voters, then we can capture the revenue that would come from the Final Four and the Super Bowl,” Judge Emmett said.
“Taxes pay for public facilities whether you’re talking about roads, libraries, or anything else and it’s the Harris County Dome Stadium. It’s a public facility so taxpayers need to know exactly what’s involved.”
According to Edgar Colon, Chairman of Harris County Sports & Convention Corp., the new Astrodome project will provide versatility in the planned space.
“We could reconfigure the floor to host high school football. We could also do graduations. We could also do swimming competitions.”
Commissioner Jack Cagle believes that the proposed plans do not necessarily have to turn a profit in order to avoid demolition.
“We build roads all the time that we don’t make money off of but they are the right thing to do and they help our economy and they help our region but there is still a balance. You don’t want to be frivolous or extravagant. You need to make sure it makes good public sense.”
If this new Astrodome proposal is accepted by county leaders, it could end up on the voting ballot for the public to decide. The storied history behind the 48-year old Dome may be what ultimately saves it.