(From Venues Today, November 12, 2013) The Houston Astrodome, built by Judge Roy Hofheinz and friends for baseball and football and rodeo, first opened its doors in 1965 and became the eighth wonder of the world. Unfortunately the last event held at the Astrodome was the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo back in February 2009. Reliant Stadium opened in 2002, and the Houston Texans of the National Football League and the rodeo moved there.
The Astrodome does not have a certificate of occupancy, and there seems to be no use for it. There have been many ideas about what to do with the Astrodome, with the latest idea being for the Houston Livestock Show & Radio to rehabilitate the Astrodome. That proposal, however, was defeated with 53 percent voting against the funding of the renovation. Leroy Safer, President and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo stated, “In 13 years, since we’ve known we need to do something with that venue, we’ve seen a lot of proposals.” The only problem is that with other venues located near the building also need ongoing maintenance and operation investment, they want to be sure the Astrodome would have adequate operation, maintenance and replacement revenue.
The rodeo has had AEG consider repurposing the Astrodome as they did with the Millennium Dome, now O2 Arena. Unfortunately, the location of the arena makes access a problem for development – another dead end for Astrodome. “Multipurpose no longer works. It was built for capacity and presentation of a certain era, that is no longer workable,” Shafer said. The ultimate decision maker, the Harris County Commissioners Court, has not yet been able to announce the demolition of the arena because of funds and sentimental reasons. However, the $2-$3 million maintenance bill to keep the dome from falling down will have to motivate them to take some type of action. The real question when deciding the fate of the Astrodome is, “How do you pay for it?”