August 07, 2003
What to do with the Dome?

The debate over what to do with the Astrodome continues, as county officials seek input from developers who might have an interest in the land. There are a few, um, requirements, though.

The Sports and Convention Corp. issued a request for proposals in early June, seeking creative ideas to make the Dome, once again, a destination. The deadline for submissions is Friday.

The request for proposals is geared toward large developers, requiring that they have a proven record of successful mixed-use projects costing $100 million or more. It also requires them to produce a financing plan.

Further, any proposal must be compatible with the county's contractual obligations with the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

In short, the county asks for a complete package: a creative money-generating idea likely involving an entertainment complex, a plan to build it and a way to pay for the whole thing.

And it is asking for it quickly and rather quietly.

Hey, you've got till tomorrow. No sweat.

Frankly, I have no idea what to do with it. I'd like to see the Dome rehabilitated into something cool and useful, but if it has to be dynamited then such is life. History is unfortunately not on its side:

A second life as something other than a sports venue would mark another first for the Dome. Attempts to reanimate concrete dinosaurs in other cities swept by new-stadium fever in the 1990s have so far proved unsuccessful.

Detroit officials appear ready to give up on the nearly 90-year-old Tiger Stadium after four years of trying to attract developers to transform America's oldest major-league ballpark into condominiums, restaurants and office space. The Tigers abandoned the downtown stadium in 1999 for Comerica Park.

Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh were dynamited in 2001 after attempts to renovate them as residential and retail space failed.

As noted, the Dome was built as a multipurpose facility, which gives it an advantage over those other ballparks, but let's face it. Given the economy and the real estate market, I'm having a hard time imagining any development that doesn't start with a few hundred pounds of explosives.

But hey, if you feel differently, the Chron has a little online poll going. So far, "redevelop it" is leading "dynamite it" by 77-23%. For what it's worth.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 07, 2003 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

Astroworld should make it into a giant indoor VR amusement park.

APCOT Center, anyone?

Posted by: Michael on August 7, 2003 1:21 PM

There's a proposal before the City Council out here to create something which looks quite like the Dome for sludge recycling.

Posted by: Linkmeister on August 7, 2003 5:20 PM

I want to read more about those "attempts to reanimate concrete dinosaurs in other cities". That sounds cool, something like a cross between JURASSIC PARK and THE STONE WAR. Are there any plans to have the concrete dinosaurs fight giant Japanese robots?

Posted by: Steven desJardins on August 8, 2003 10:28 AM