After years of stagnation, the Harris County Commissioners Court believes they’ve found a solution to the Astrodome controversy.
The commissioners have unanimously approved a plan to spend $105 million on a major overhaul and renovation of the stadium. The proposal includes two phases, and commissioners took a big step on Tuesday by approving the first phase.
The plan is to raise the floor of the Astrodome in order to put 1,400 parking spots below. The renovated Astrodome will be rented out as event space. Approximately 550,000 square feet would be available for retail use.
Funding for the project will come from three sources. $35 million will be pulled from the general fund, and another $35 million will come from hotel taxes. The rest will come from parking revenues.
The new proposal comes years after voters rejected a $217 million bond which would have turned the Astrodome into a massive convention center. The vacant stadium currently costs around $170,000 annually to maintain.
While the Office of the County Engineer has been authorized to spend $10.5 million on the beginning engineering and architectural phase, the proposal must next be reviewed by the Texas Historical Commission. Any major alterations to the first of its kind, 51-year old stadium must first be approved by the commission.
“The Astrodome’s days of sitting idle and abandoned are over,” said County Judge Ed Emmett. “Instead, Harris County’s most recognized building will again be proud and useful as host to thousands of area residents attending a variety of business and community events. Hundreds of people worked very hard to see that happen, and I’m proud that this day has finally arrived.”
Commissioners plan to approve phase two at a later date. The proposal is expected to take three to five years to complete.