What to do with the Astrodome?
Bill Murphy and Bill Hensel report that Astrodome Redevelopment Co. has shifted from initial plans to develop a theme park out of the abandoned sports arena. Now, the company hopes to redevelop it as a convention hotel.
No doubt, many Houstonians have fond memories of the Dome, and don't like the idea of tearing it down. However, the costs of maintaining the empty behemoth are significant. It either needs to be dynamited and paved over, or turned into something useful.
On that last, Tom Kirkendall warns:
[M]y sense is that this proposal for the Astrodome is not likely to occur without a substantial subsidy from Harris County. Consequently, let's see if the Chronicle or any other Houston news media discloses the true taxpayer cost of retrofitting and maintaining the Dome in comparison to alternative uses of the property. Given the Chronicle's abysmal performance in providing accurate information regarding the cost of the Streetcar Named Disaster, my expectations are not high.
Somebody needs to look out for the taxpayers and their interests on this deal. Murphy and Hensel suggest that the redevelopment project has a potential price tag of $400 million. The result would be a convention hotel that competes with the new Hilton Americas downtown -- potentially hurting its revenues.
This project needs much more scrutiny before we decide it's better than just blowing up the rat trap.