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More on the Astrodome Redevelopment opposition

Following up on yesterday’s announcement that the Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo had come out against the Astrodome Redevelopment plan, here’s today’s Chron story, with more details.

Scott Hanson, president of Astrodome Redevelopment, held out hope that the project would not die.

Astrodome Redevelopment may be willing to compromise with the rodeo on current sticking points, he said, adding that the developer may be willing to curtail food and merchandise sales during the annual event.

“Frankly, we are quite shocked by the Rodeo’s position,” Hanson said in an e-mail. “We have been working with the Rodeo organization for quite some time and were hopeful that our proposed redevelopment would only enhance their month-long event.”

Miya has a copy of the full statement.

Members of Commissioners Court have been reluctant to order the razing of the dome because of the sentimental value it holds for those who attended their first sporting events there or took in a major game.

In a poll commissioned by County Judge Ed Emmett’s office earlier this year, 84 percent of county residents opposed the razing of the dome, Emmett said.

“Clearly, we have to do something with the Astrodome,” he said. “The choices are: Do we tear it down and absorb the loss? Or do we redevelop it, and what do we redevelop it as? The worst thing would be for the dome to be redeveloped and have it fail.”

On the one hand, I’m a fan of preservation, and I have as much sentimental attachment to the Dome as anyone. On the other hand, it ain’t cheap to keep it running. As I see it, if the redevelopment plan falls through, the county can keep paying the maintenance and quit griping about it, find a private source of money to pay that maintenance while maybe turning the place into some kind of historic-preservation site, or convince us sentimental fools that the money we’re paying isn’t worth it, thus perhaps changing public attitudes enough to allow for demolition.

[Jamey Rootes, president of the Houston Texans,] said the Texans are worried that traffic to and from the hotel would worsen congestion on the South Loop and Kirby Drive on game days.

Astrodome Redevelopment would build a 2,100-space parking garage around two-thirds of the dome. The Texans would like to use the garage on game days and keep the revenue, Rootes said.

The Texans also share the rodeo’s concerns over sponsorship and deals for exclusive sales rights, he said.

But Rootes said the Texans may be willing to reopen negotiations if Astrodome Redevelopment can meet its demands.

I think the traffic concerns for Texans game days are overstated. I don’t see the hotel adding that much to the existing congestion. If the Texans are that concerned about it, they can start encouraging their customers to use the light rail to get to the game, especially as the system extensions make that option more viable to more people. The rest of their concerns sound like no big deal to me, certainly nothing that should be insurmountable.

Willie Loston, director of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp., said the county attorney’s office is researching whether the county could approve the project over the objections of the Texans and the rodeo if the sports corporation determined the development would not hurt their operations.

If Commissioners Court were to go forward with the project under those circumstances, its members would have to be willing to be at odds with members of the rodeo’s board, among the city’s biggest movers and shakers.

Whatever the legalities may be, I can’t see the Court going against the wishes of these two entities. It sounds like the Texans can be placated, so the question is whether the Dome folks can make it worth the Rodeo’s while to get on board. We’ll see what happens.

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One Comment

  1. Raquel Gallegos says:

    I’m doing a research paper on redevelopment of the dome and its effect on native Houstonians like me. Please email me and we can speak further…thanks