'No tax hike' plan to revitalize Astrodome gaining steam

- Revitalizing the beloved but rickety structure, once known as the 8th Wonder of the World, has been a mission wrought with multiple failures. And yet, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett's latest and most pragmatic proposal has a critical component that may just turn the tide, that is, no tax hike required.

"I think the public wants something to happen and I think this is the best plan," said Emmett.

The plan, now headed to the Texas Historical Commission for consideration, would construct 1,400 covered parking spaces in the subterranean space where the Astros, Oilers and rodeo stars once entertained. A new dome floor would sit at street level offering nine full acres of highly-flexible climate-controlled open space in the heart of the NRG Park complex.  

Emmett contends that a consistent revenue stream will help offset the $104 million price tag.

"We do have to pay for it and the parking is obviously a big piece of that and the rental of the open space to groups that want to use it would also be a revenue source," added Emmett. "Just the demolition of the Dome is $30 million, so It's a building that's fully paid for and we need to figure out how to make it more usable."

Known as the 'Houstorian,' architecture expert James Glassman has battled to save the Astrodome and says this revenue-generating "big room" option will preserve an iconic structure at the core of the city's identity.

"We really have so few landmarks, bonafide landmarks here in Houston," said Glassman. "We really can't afford to squander any of the ones that we have." 

"It can still be the Astrodome in a hundred years and in 50 years we can turn it into something else," added Glassman. "Like I said, once it's gone, it's gone forever."

Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack told FOX 26 News that the 'no tax hike' proposal offers some "unique, low cost, multi-use" opportunities for Harris County families and deserves serious study."

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