Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – Paul began the show discussing Tuesday’s article in the Houston Chronicle written by Texans beat writer John McClain.
McClain explained that for NRG stadium to ever host another Super Bowl, it will have to adhere to various upgrades. Citing newer stadiums built after Houston’s gem, and new stadiums in Minneapolis and Atlanta already set to host the next two Super Bowls, Houston will have to upgrade to keep up the resources and amenities newer stadiums now offer.
McClain, wondering where the money is going to come from, as we all are, called the idea to use $105 million for Astrodome upgrades, “preposterous.”
Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett has taken plenty of criticism from media as well as tax payer for the long hold up on determining what the outcome of the iconic, yet dilapidated Astrodome will be.
Emmett explained that finding private interests to develop the Astrodome hasn’t exactly been easy.
“I inherited that when I became county judge in 2007. For whatever reason the decision was made that it was still going to stand they were going to convert it into a hotel. They’d given us exclusive contract with some people to do that but those people did not have the money and they eventually said ‘never mind,’ so they gave it back to the county.”
Emmett, left with the responsibility to assist in determining the future of the historic structure nearly 10 years ago, said he doesn’t want the Astrodome to cloud everything else he’s done for the community.
“I’m responsible for emergency management, mental health, health care, transportation policy. I can do all those things great, but people are going to end up judging me by what happens to the Astrodome. That’s kind of a sad commentary. And at the end of the day, the Astrodome is a building fully paid for. It’s not a sports facility I don’t know why the sports people are so fixated on it. It’s never going to be put back as a sports facility, but what are you going to do with this iconic historic building that is now protected by the Texas historical commission?”
While Emmett understands tax payers don’t like spending their tax dollars on enterprises that don’t directly benefit them, he says the idea of building a new floor to not just accommodate parking underneath, but also hold a number of big time conferences and rodeo activities there would do a great deal to serve the people of the community.
“People said tear it down and build parking. Well guess what, we can put 1,400 parking spaces underneath the new floor and what that does, is that creates 8-9 acres of open space, undercover that groups like the offshore technology conference, the auto show, the boat show, and all kinds of groups have come forward and said, ‘we can really use that,’ Emmett explained. “All the festivals and gatherings in town that keep getting rained out, the rodeo could move the kiddie rides and their food court in there…I mean let’s face it you have to sit on a little concrete curb to eat your sausage on a stick at the rodeo now, that’s not good. So this makes it useful.”
Mickey Mantle opened the Astrodome in 1965, hitting the first home run in its history.
Fifty-two years later, and nearly 18 years removed from last hosting a baseball game, the idea’s that have since been floated to preserve the structure itself and use it to drive revenue have been uninspiring to say the least.
While this latest idea from Emmett has left many wondering why more money should be spent on something that currently serve no purpose, and hasn’t for years, should now be revitalized.
It’s hard for fans and media to accept the notion that Emmett hasn’t taken this battle personal on some level, and is now hell-bent on proving everyone wrong.
Emmitt says that’s not the case.
“Well believe it or not, I don’t have an emotional attachment to it. To me it’s an asset, it’s just a fully paid for asset. It belongs to the taxpayers and it’s a building that had a stadium inside it. That’s the difference in Yankee stadium, it was a stadium. The Astrodome is a building that had a stadium inside. Well, the stadium is not going to be there anymore. The building is going to stay and we can put it to good use.”
Fans and tax payers alike, can only hope that Emmett can hit a home run with this latest venture.