Thursday, November 07, 2013


The voters have spoken:
A $217 million bond measure to fund a massive Astrodome renovation failed by several percentage points, a decision expected to doom it to the wrecking ball.
Proposition 2 would have allowed Harris County to issue up to $217 million in bonds to turn the beloved but bedraggled stadium into a massive event and exhibition center. In complete but unofficial results, opponents gained 53 percent of the vote.

County commissioners have said they would recommend the wrecking ball if the bond failed.
"We're going to have to do something quick," County Judge Ed Emmett said afterward. "We can't allow the once-proud dome to sit like a rusting ship in the middle of a parking lot."
“Do something quick” translates to  “solicit bids from demolition companies immediately.” Emmett and the rest of the commissioners court want to wash their hands clean of this iconic yet obsolete building as soon as possible.

My thoughts on why the Dome bond measure failed are pretty much in line with Kuff’s:
My theory on the Astrodome was that in the end, this effort came too late. I think too many people had become cynical about the whole thing, and perhaps the somewhat staid New Dome proposal, chosen over a number of imaginative but fanciful alternatives, turned people off. I’m just guessing here. The pro-Dome campaign wasn’t particularly high-visibility, either, and that probably didn’t help. Like it or not, the people have spoken.
I completely agree about the proposal for its renovation: it was bland and had a very speculative “let’s renovate it and see if they come” quality to it. There was no clear answer as to what kind of revenue the refurbished arena would generate, and nobody could clearly demonstrate a need for more convention space in the City of Houston. In fact, the only committed user for the renovated dome was the Offshore Technology Conference; the Texans weren’t interested in using it - they want more parking - and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s support for it was tepid and conditional.

And yes, the campaign for the bond was anemic. It’s almost as if the whole thing was designed to fail. 

The bottom line is that there are a significant number of people in Harris County who were not interested in preserving the world’s first air-conditioned, domed stadium and/or were adverse to the property tax hike that would have been required to fund its renovation.

For the record, I still think UH architecture student Ryan Slattery’s proposal for the Astrodome – strip it down to its steel frame and create a massive outdoor pavilion – was the most elegant and inspired option for the building’s future. That being said, the building's fate was decided on Tuesday.

It’s time to say goodbye, and move on.

RIP Astrodome 1965-2014.

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