While the Houston Astros have been in their new home at Minute Maid Park for 12 years, taxpayers are still throwing $4 million a year away on their old home – the Astrodome – as the Harris County Commissioners figure out what to finally do with the empty stadium.
The Astrodome – once an engineering marvel nicknamed “The Eighth Wonder of the World” – has been mostly vacant ever since the Houston Astros moved into Minute Maid Park in 2000. Harris County officially closed it down for good in 2006.
But as the owner of the now former ballpark, Harris County is still paying more than $4 million a year of your tax dollars to maintain it. And based on the inaction of the Harris County Commissioners Court, taxpayers may continue to pay the upkeep for quite some time.
According to KTRK-TV in Houston, commissioners are sending “the people designing the dome’s future back to the drawing board”. That’s about $500,000 in consulting fees that just went down the drain.
Naturally, these consultants are being paid with your money to figure out new ways to spend even more of your money. Their latest idea is to spend $400 million to essentially turn the Astrodome into a warehouse of “multi-purpose facilities” – whatever that entails.
Yes, the Astrodome is an iconic landmark even to non-baseball fans, and was the site of many historic sports moments involving the Houston Oilers and Astros. (I personally saw my first MLB game there as a child.) But nostalgia is no excuse for wasting millions of tax dollars.
If county commissioners are prepared to spend around $400 million, why not save hundreds of millions by tearing the dome down? Demolishing the stadium and building a plaza in its place was estimated to cost $64 million.
Or better yet, solicit private investors to buy the property from the county and let the free market decide its fate? (A wild idea, I know, but humor me.)
Either way, time is money, and the longer Harris County sits idly by without a plan of action, it’s going to keep costing taxpayers a lot of money.