Latest Astrodome redevelopment dreams: A $100+ million fitness center!

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Remember how county “leaders” all but promised that a vote against their preferred Astrodome Boondoggle Bond would finally lead to the demolition of the liability?

The scare tactics failed, of course, but boondoggle dreams die hard.

On Wednesday, the Chronicle reported that Commissioner El Franco Lee is in no hurry at all to tear down the liability (which costs Harris County taxpayers a few million dollars per year):

Commissioner El Franco Lee, whose Precinct 1 is home to the county-owned Dome, said Commissioners Court is “not under any time constraint” in deciding what to do with the vacant stadium.

“The only constraint we’re under is spending any public money,” Lee said.


Lee noted that about $8 million worth of cleanup work, including asbestos removal, is underway to prepare the Dome for redevelopment or demolition and said that work would be sufficient to prepare the structure for the Super Bowl.

“We’ll be ready for that,” Lee said. “That’s a pretty low bar to meet.”

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who announced shortly after the vote that he was going “to do other things for awhile,” devoted some time to the Astrodome thing for the Chron story:

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said Tuesday the Super Bowl is “a critical date” when it comes to the Dome’s fate but said the county will allow private parties another shot.

“People continue to come and say, you know, if you give us a little time we’ll have $100 million or $200 million or whatever, and I think Commissioners Court is of a mind that if they show up here and they’ve gone through the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. and they have the money and they want to convert it, then we’ll certainly listen to ideas,” Emmett said.

One would think that two words would be clear after all these years of waiting for the magical private investment to “save” the Astrodome: NOT HAPPENING.

And finally, the story concludes with an outbreak of Astrodome Derangement Syndrome:

At Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting, a resident who wants to turn the Dome into a fitness center asked the court for 120 days so he could “re-establish the relationships with corporations that have shown an interest in this project from the beginning.”

Brendan Cooney, a Realtor and independent contractor, said he will use the time to raise $100 million “to share the cost of bringing the Astrodome up to code and bringing this proposed plan to fruition.”

SHARE the cost? What part of “no public money” do these boondoggle proponents not understand?

And a $100+ million fitness center? Really?

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