Encouraging developments in Astrodome discussion

On Tuesday, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett announced his idea to repurpose the Astrodome as the world’s largest indoor park, saying the proposal would create “a new vision of the future” while honoring Judge Roy Hofheinz’s original intention for the iconic stadium. Since then, there have been positive responses to the plan, including an ongoing Houston Business Journal survey showing majority support for the proposal and an Atlantic magazine CityLab article that draws parallels between the Dome’s possibilities and New York’s High Line urban park.

Next week, the stadium’s future will be the topic of a meeting between county officials and representatives of the Urban Land Institute, a global non-profit that represents the spectrum of real estate development and land use disciplines. Texas Historical Commission members will also continue to advise on possible redevelopment of the Astrodome as a result of the stadium's pending State Antiquities Landmark designation. In addition, Emmett said he has discussed his indoor park proposal with representatives of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Houston Texans football team, the two major tenants of the NRG Park complex where the Dome is located.

“I view the Dome as an asset belonging to the taxpayers,” Emmett said during a press conference held Tuesday on the floor of the Astrodome. “Our decision must be in the best interest of the taxpayers, and it must be part of an overall plan to enhance the entire complex for the use of current and future tenants.” 

While the judge did not present a formal proposal, he discussed a fluid concept that could include open space for festivals and community gatherings, exercise and sports facilities, a pavilion for music and other events, as well as space for specialized museums and educational facilities. Emmett said funding for the project would likely come from a combination of public and private sources. Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation Chair Edgar Colón told the Houston Chronicle that he hopes to have a firmer plan and cost estimates within three months.

Preservation Houston will continue working with Astrodome stakeholders and our preservation partners Friends of the DomeNational Trust for Historic Preservation and Houston Mod, and PH will keep its members apprised of continuing developments.