Houston Gets Go-Ahead to Turn Astrodome Into Convention Space


According to the Houston Chronicle, the Harris County Commissioners Court in Texas, whose territory includes the city of Houston, unanimously has approved a $105 million plan to redevelop the Astrodome, once home to baseball's Houston Astros and the defunct NFL team, the Houston Oilers, into event space. The Astros now play in Minute Maid Park, and the NFL's Houston Texans play in the city's NRG Stadium. The court's approval allows the project to move forward to the design phase.

Plans for the complex, as reported by M&C, calls for the creation of two levels of underground parking, comprising 1,400 spaces, and nearly eight acres of column-free exhibit space on top for use by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and other events. How the site's additional 500,000 square feet of space will be redeveloped will be determined at a later date.

Phase one, featuring engineering and architectural work, is projected to take 12-18 months. Phase two construction would take another two to three years. Financing is expected to come from the Harris County General Fund and revenues from both the city's hotel occupancy tax (Houston's 17 percent is one of the highest in the country) and its Enterprise Parking Fund.

The fate of the stadium had been up in the air since election day 2013, when Texas voters rejected a referendum that would have authorized up to $217 million in bonds to turn the Houston Astrodome into a large convention center. News reports at the time said the facility probably would be demolished; now it looks like what once was called the eighth wonder of the world will get a new life.

Photograph by Mark Green