The Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. board of directors approved a resolution Wednesday calling for staff to collect ideas for what to do with the vacant Reliant Astrodome between now and June 10.
The Sports Corp., the agency that manages Reliant Park, would analyze any proposals its receives before bringing them to Harris County Commissioners Court on June 25.
The court has the final say on what should be done with the aging stadium, on which the county still owes about $30 million. The time frame set by the Sports Corp. is aligned with the court’s scheduled consideration of the county’s capital projects plan on June 25.
Seriously? We’ve been talking about this for over five years, and there have been more what-to-do-with-the-Dome studies than I can count. How is it that the HCSCC doesn’t already have a firm idea of what’s practical or not?
“We have had people approaching us, asking us questions and they want to sit down and talk to us about the idea, so that way we can evaluated them and make a decision,” said Edgar Colon with the HCSCC.
Turning it into a parking lot has been suggested by the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo as well as the Houston Texans, who play in nearby Reliant Stadium. Their estimated cost was around $30 million and no funding source was named.
Now the Sports and Convention Corporation says it would cost more like $50 million, and says it is weighing a wide variety of ideas from turning into a plaza to preserving it.
“It is not that we are solely considering demolition of the Astrodome. We are considering that as one of the possibilities, one of the alternatives, among six, seven or eight that we are considering,” Colon said.
Engaging the public is never a bad idea, but what are the odds someone will have an idea that hasn’t already been proposed? Make a decision about what options are the most viable and send them to Commissioners Court already. Sheesh.
UPDATE: More from Hair Balls.
According to the paperwork passed about after today’s meeting, it appears that the HCSCC has given private entities until June 10th to submit their proposals for turning the Dome into a hotel, a ski-jump facility, a coliseum of Roman re-enactors, or any of the thoroughly bottom-dollar approaches those behind the plans have concocted. After conducting feasibility studies — have to make sure the money’s backing the plans — HCSCC will then pass the ideas along to the Commissioners Court for discussion at the June 25th Capital Improvements Program hearing.
If they so deem, the HCSCC “may also recommend one of more public purpose plans” to suit the Dome’s transformation. While there’s no guarantee that a public option will be on the table for the June 25th hearing, it seems unlikely that a location that’s gained as much sense of public ownership as any building in Houston would come to a final vote without a potential for communal ownership.
Of course, all of this could end up being moot, as explained in the HCSCC’s resolution’s final point. “If a referendum vote fails or is not ordered, the HCSCC respectfully requests that the Commissioners Court directs HCSCC to prepare a plan to decommission and subsequently demolish the Reliant Astrodome.” The threat of demolition, of another patch of pavement and parking, hangs behind the forthcoming decision, whichever form it may take.
So if you have an idea, go ahead and let HCSCC know about it by June 10.