Astrodome as a parking garage? County judge has new plan

HOUSTON – Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is hoping to move forward with a plan for the Astrodome that is much simpler than many of the ideas that have been put forth in regards to the aging Astrodome. The plan will be discussed in greater detail with the county’s capital improvement at the end of June.

“People like to talk about, 'what's the final grand plan going to be?' I don't know,” said Emmett.

However, Emmett does have a vision for the Dome in the immediate future. Emmett wants to move forward with raising the Astrodome's floor to create an underground two level parking garage that would hold 1,400 spaces.

“You suddenly are now generating some revenue and it becomes a usable facility again,” said Emmett.

Emmett said the rest of the plan calls for gutting the inside and leaving the iconic dome intact.

“At that point you've got 9 acres of air-conditioned, covered space that a lot of groups would like to use,” said Emmett. “How many of the annual festivals and gatherings that we have in this community would love to schedule and know that they're not going to be impacted by weather?”

Emmett said creating a large open space would allow the Texans and Livestock Show and Rodeo to again use the Astrodome for special events,

From there, Emmett said it would be up to the private sector to come up with an idea and money to turn the Dome into something else. A cost analysis of raising the floor and fully gutting the inside is nearly complete and will be presented to the county's capital improvement committee on June 28.

“I think the simple plan really is the best right now,” said Emmett.

Emmett said he hopes commissioners will then vote on Sept. 27 whether to put the expense of this work into next year's budget. Either way, Emmett said no work on the Dome will happen before the Super Bowl.