Senate OKs bill requiring vote on Astrodome's future


HOUSTON – Texas senators passed a bill Wednesday that would require the public to vote on the use of Harris County money to redevelop Houston’s Astrodome.

The bill was written by state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, after Harris County leaders floated a plan that would spend $105 million to raise the floor of the iconic stadium, add 1,400 parking spaced underneath and turn the facility into a venue for festivals and conferences.

Voters in 2013 rejected a similar plan that would have cost taxpayers $217 million to turn it into an expo center.

Whitmire and other Houston lawmakers said the new plan aims to bypass the 2013 decision.

PHOTOS: Inside the Astrodome

"We had an election on this issue already,” Whitmire said during an earlier interview with KPRC 2. “They lost and they want to forget that and ignore the will of the voters.”

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has said Whitmire’s legislation risks derailing the plan.

Opened in 1965, the Astrodome was the first air-conditioned, indoor arena, earning it a nickname of the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It was shuttered in 2006 and has been vacant ever since.

The venue was designated a state antiquities landmark in January.

The measure now heads to the state House.

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