HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The votes are cast and the Harris County Domed Stadium, known best to Houston-area residents as the NRG Astrodome, is one step closer to being saved from demolition. The Harris County Commissioners Court agreed to spend $105 million to make it happen.
It is one of the most famous buildings in the U.S. but in the last few years, it has been the subject of conversation regarding its demise. The vote on Tuesday will put an end to that threat and make use of the NRG Astrodome once again, according to Harris County Commissioners Court.
“Do you use taxpayer dollars to destroy an iconic structure after which you have nothing left, or do you use taxpayer dollars to put back into use all the groups like OTC say they can use,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.
The Commissioners Court decided saving the NRG Astrodome and rebuilding it, simply makes more sense when it comes to taxpayer money.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is the dome is fully paid for,” said Judge Emmett. “Even if it could be demolished, that would cost upwards of $30 million.”
Taxpayer dollars have remained a huge concern when it comes to saving the NRG Astrodome.
“The last election was to authorize $217 million in bond money should the county borrow money to work on the dome,” said Gene Locke, Harris County Precinct One Commissioner. “And the voters said no to that. This is an entirely different deal. The sources of money is different and the application is different.”
The commissioners said they do not plan to let the county citizens vote this time around, since bond money is no longer part of the plan. And for some, that’s not okay.
“That money is going to come from the taxpayers,” said John Stephens, a private citizen. “The plan that they say here, general funds, budget redirections, as I said in there, that means user funds. So why shouldn’t those people have a say in what’s done out there?”
Either way, the new $105 million plan will elevate the NRG Astrodome floor, provide two levels of underground parking and convert the 550,000 square feet into public space. The commissioners approved $10.5 million on Tuesday which will directly fund the engineering and the design.
Judge Emmett said the next step is to get permission from Texas Historical Commission because the NRG Astrodome has a pending application as an antiquity landmark.