June 17, 2007
The long march for Dome redevelopment financing continues onward

Another story about another step forward in obtaining financing for the Astrodome redevelopment project.

A company that aims to reinvent the Astrodome as an upscale luxury hotel has gotten preliminary approval to obtain financing for the $450 million project, county officials said Friday.

Astrodome Redevelopment Co. missed a deadline three months ago to show it had the approval, but now can move forward with other stages of the project, said Mike Surface, chairman of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp., which oversees Reliant Park.

"This is certainly a significant occurrence in the determination of the future of the Astrodome," he said.

During the next three months, Astrodome Redevelopment will try to clear another hurdle: convincing the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that they can coexist with a 1,200-room, four-star convention hotel.

It feels like there's been a lot of these stories lately, but I don't feel like there's been a lot of new stuff in many of them. It's not really clear to me what's changed since the previous installment, for example.

Leroy Shafer, the rodeo's chief operating officer, said the rodeo and Astrodome Redevelopment have issues to negotiate, including the hotel's access to Reliant Park during the rodeo, the rodeo's take, if any, of concession and merchandise sales at the Dome hotel during the rodeo, naming rights and marketing rights.

Astrodome Redevelopment has considered building an overhead ramp from the South Loop to the hotel.

"They either have to go over us or under us. Ingress-egress is a major issue, of course," Shafer said. "We run our show from fenceline to fenceline."

This subject first came up about a year ago. I'm still not sure what the logistics of this proposed exit ramp would be. Maybe this is where the whole thing founders, and not financing. We'll see.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 17, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston