Judge Emmett said latest plan for the Astrodome's future is 'a n - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Judge Emmett said latest plan for the Astrodome's future is 'a non-story'

Posted: Updated:
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Harris County Judge Ed Emmett called a plan commissioned by the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that would demolish the Astrodome and convert the area into a park at a cost of $66 million "a non-story."

The Texans and Rodeo's proposal, which was first reported by the Houston Chronicle, includes converting the area into a park, much like Discovery Green in downtown Houston.

The proposal will also pay tribute to much of the history connected to the Astrodome.

"It's really a non-story," Emmett said in an interview with FOX26 Sports. "Anybody can come forward with their plan for the dome. We've got dozens of plans for the dome and this is just another one.

"At the end of the day it's demolition. The Commissioners Court is not there yet."

However, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo believes their plan, in conjunction with the Texans, is best for the future of NRG Park.

"We at this point see no alternative to tearing the dome down or just letting it sit there and rot, which it's been doing very effectively," said Leroy Shafer, chief operating officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

"Let's see what we can do to come up with something that pays tribute to the dome and I think when you see this study, you'll see that it does."

Shafer said the plan calls for creating "commemorative columns" that will include plaques honoring the history of the Astrodome that can be sponsored by individuals or corporations.

"It really pays tribute to the dome, but it produces a tremendous amount of usable green space," Shafer said. "It produces a park right here in the middle of NRG Park and that's something that we don't have at this point. It's something that's tremendously usable by the Rodeo. It's something that's tremendously usable by the Texans, but more importantly it's usable by all of the other people that come into the grounds. All of the promoters and the organizations that do shows here. It is affordable."

Shafer said the cost of the project can be handled through a public-private venture.

"We think there's the ability to match public funding on this with private donations and private funding and we think it's an affordable solution," Shafer said.

"The Rodeo and the Texans have said all along, if there's something that works for us we'll participate."

Judge Emmett does not believe this latest proposal for the future of the Astrodome has any more merit than others he has considered.

"I don't think so," Judge Emmett said. "If the decision were to be made to demolish the dome at some point in the future, we'd probably go out and get our own thoughts about how to do it and what to put up in its place.

"The dome belongs to the taxpayers of Harris County. It is paid off. The decision of what to do next is a decision to be made by Harris County Commissioners Court, four county commissioners and the county judge. Then if it involves a level of money that requires a bond, then we'd have to come back to the taxpayers and say 'do you approve this bond?'

"We tried that last fall. They did not approve it, 53-47(%). We're still waiting for better ideas to come forward."

Judge Emmett said converting the Astrodome into a usable facility should not be ruled out.

"I still think we need to find a way to repurpose the structure," said Judge Emmett. "It's the only structure in the world that has 350 thousand square feet of column-free space.

"The Livestock Show and Rodeo could use it. I've met with them. They said 'oh absolutely we could use it. Put all the food and kiddy rides and things like that in there.' The Offshore Technology Conference clearly could use it. They were way out of space this year.

"And the Texans, the fan experience before games, and if could get it done before the Super Bowl (in 2017), think about the week leading up the Super Bowl and the things you could do out there."

Shafer said the Texans and the Rodeo will take part in the most significant study yet to gauge public opinion about the future of the Astrodome.

"We have commissioned a study," Shafer said. "That study will start taking place relatively soon. It's been commissioned by the Texans and the Rodeo with the Hobby Center for Public Policy at the University of Houston. That's being done with Dr. Jim Granato. It's also being done in conjunction with Dr. Mark Jones over at the Baker Institute at Rice University.

"We're commissioning a very valid public opinion analysis. We don't think that's really been done."


Powered by WorldNow

4261 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77027

Phone: (713) 479-2801
Fax: (713) 479-2859

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices