The quest to save the long vacant Astrodome got a boost this week from the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. If this proposal is approved this coming Tuesday, it will conclude a remarkable preservation success story. The dome is emblematic of Houston's post-war rise to global prominence and allowed previously outdoor sports to be played sheltered from the Gulf Coast's harsh heat and humidity. It is arguably the most innovative and influential sports venue of the 20th century.
During its meeting this afternoon at Reliant Stadium, Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. (HCSCC) approved a proposal to “re-imagine, re-purpose and re-invent” the Reliant Astrodome. The plan would preserve the iconic stadium with alterations for a variety of public uses.
HCSCC Executive Director Willie Loston said the proposed renovations would improve Reliant Park’s marketability and Houston’s overall competitiveness for the largest conventions and special events. The renovated stadium would include 350,000 square feet of column-free exhibit space and give Reliant Park a total 1.3 million square feet of exhibition facilities. According to Loston, the extra space is already needed for the Offshore Technology Conference and the NCAA Final Four.
Proposed changes to the stadium include removing the ramp towers added in the 1990s, removing the interior seating, raising the floor to street level, adding energy efficient systems and installing glass walls at the four compass points.
The project is expected to cost $194 million and take 30 months to build. Income from rentals would pay for the renovated stadium’s upkeep.
The plan now goes to Harris County Commissioners Court, which is expected to vote on the proposal during its June 25 Capital Improvements Meeting.