HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The fate of the Astrodome has been up in the air for years, but not anymore. County commissioners have made a decision.
So is the dome doomed for destruction or months away from a multi-million dollar makeover? The building has been closed since 2008, but get ready for a reopening. Harris County commissioners voted for a plan to pump $105 million into renovating the Astrodome, which is said to be "as sturdy as a rock" and will now be called the Harris County Domed Stadium.
After ten years of debating the dome's destiny, we now know one first-rate face lift is in its immediate future.
"For me it's a landmark. It's iconic,” says Houstonian Bo Garcia.
The renovation includes building a new ground level floor.
"We're not trying to do anything fancy with it. We're just building a facility they can use and putting parking underneath,” says Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.
What will be the re-designed Harris County Domed Stadium was home to the World Champion Houston Astros from 1965, when it opened, to 1999 and the Oilers from 1968 to 1996.
There will be 500,000 square feet of development opportunity for retail, restaurants, museums and meeting spaces.
What was once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World will be the NRG Park Hub helping pay for upgrades to the stadium and arena.
”If we don't have the dome to generate that revenue, then that whole complex is going to begin to fall apart,” Emmett adds.
It would have cost $35 million to tear down the dome, which despite debate, was never an option.
Most Houstonians are glad to see it stay because of so many memories created here.
"Back when the Houston Rodeo was there. Selena's trip there,” Garcia remembers.
”Seeing Nolan Ryan pitch. Seeing Mark McGwire during batting practice and hitting into the colored seats way up into the upper deck,” smiles Rodney Gregory.
”My dad used to take us to games there. We had a catcher Tony Eusebio and it was his first grand slam that he hit in the stadium. We were there,” explains Eric Melchor.
Some Houstonians are asking, "why isn’t this money being used for rebuilding after Harvey?" Well, $35 million is coming from property taxes, $35 million from parking fees and $35 million from hotel occupancy tax. Two-thirds of the money can not be used for flood control, only money from property taxes could be.
Construction is set to start later this year and could take 17 months to complete. The plan still has to be approved by the Texas Historical Commission, but that isn't expected to be a problem.