Oh, yesssss, Harris County has approved spending $105 million to renovate the Astrodome into something called an “event center”! Is that sarcasm? I don’t even know anymore!
To recap: The Astros and the Oilers departed the Eighth Wonder of the World a couple of decades back, leaving it empty. Subsequent plans to spend $1.35 billion to turn it into a convention and science center, to spend $400 million to build a sports arena inside it, and to spend $217 million into a convention and event center all failed over the years. So if nothing else, $105 million seems like a more reasonable price tag, though some of that may just be due to anchoring.
In exchange for its money, the county will reportedly get the floor of the dome raised up two floors — no, I don’t know how high a “floor” is in dome measurements — which will allow for more parking underneath and reduce seating capacity, presumably. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Houston International Boat, Sport and Travel Show are both excited, though if they’re that excited, they could have offered enough in increased rental fees to pay off the $105 million cost, instead of counting on property taxes, hotel taxes, and parking revenues to cover the bill.
So I guess if you want a take from me, it’s that while I’m always happy to see old buildings repurposed rather than just demolished, and also happy to see ten-digit price tags come down to nine digits, this still doesn’t seem like exactly a super use of public funds. Too bad they can’t have it serve as a rugby stadium, too — then we’d be talking!