Voters reject quarter-billion dollar Astrodome boondoggle; trough feeders try to regroup

Reliant Astrodome. Image credit: EricEnfermero/Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The proponents of the Billion Dollar Astrodome Redevelopment Boondoggle are very disappointed!

Or, as it is sometimes put on twitter, they “haz a sad.”

Voters were supposed to give them a quarter-billion dollar credit card partially to redevelop the Astrodome (spreading that money to all the favored trough-feeders, of course).

Never mind that a quarter of a billion dollars is a LOT of money to invest in any project, and never mind that nobody ever presented a credible business plan that indicated the “New Dome Experience” would generate revenues that exceeded operating expenses.

None of that mattered. After all, KHOU’s poll, conducted by Houston’s Expert-On-Everything Bob Stein, said we wanted to keep the dome!

Well, as it turned out, Harris County voters had better sense than that. They decided Astrodome Nostalgia Syndrome was not a good reason to issue a $250 million credit card to the Astrodome redevelopment fans (knowing that they would probably try to figure out some way to get that up to a billion — yes BILLION — dollars).

County Judge Ed Emmett, a supporter of the Astrodome Boondoggle Redevelopment Bond/Tax Increase, said “the mood was clearly just not in favor of passing any kind of bond.”

Area voters did, of course, approve large bond measures in previous elections, so this blanket generalization doesn’t hold. Rather, in this election, voters rejected the questionable numbers presented by Edgar Colon, former fiscal conservative Ed Emmett, Annise Parker, and the other Astrodome Redevelopment trough feeders — because the “New Dome Experience” looked like an ongoing money loser.

Hold on to your wallets — the trough feeders aren’t done just yet

So, just a word to all of you voters who thought a “no” vote would be the end….

You should KNOW by now that the Houston Way trough feeders in this area don’t go away that easily.

Edgar Colon is strangely silent, which is a good sign, although we do wish some enterprising journalists would go and round up his opinion on what comes next.

Willie Loston, though, is already imagining that some boondoggle may still emerge:

“There’s a chance,” said Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, caretaker of the Astrodome and the rest of the vast complex it’s part of, which also includes the Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium. “The building’s still there. There’s no formal plan or authorization to demolish the building, and until somebody brings such a plan to fruition, there’s a chance.”

And Steve Radack envisions a spectacular flood-control/mosquito-breeding pond:

Harris County Pct. 3 commissioner Steve Radack has a plan to save taxpayers from that expense. He wants to turn the hole into a detention pond for storm run-off from the Reliant parking lots.

“It makes no sense to have a perfectly good hole and spend $20 million to fill it,” Radack tells CultureMap.

What makes NO SENSE is to keep throwing good money after bad.

It is well past time to demolish the Astrodome (though NOT our memories!) and eliminate a liability for Harris County taxpayers. Parking lot, flood-detention pond, monument/memorial of some sort — all of those seem like minor, INEXPENSIVE details, for local pols to work out (in accordance with the verdict of voters).

About Kevin Whited 4306 Articles
Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX