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The Astrodome will apparently continue to rust and crumble to nothingness

Mar 12, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Image (1) astrodome.jpg for post 6763

The Houston Astrodome has sat empty for years and has been without a professional sports team since the Astros moved out 13 years ago. It has been considered “uninhabitable” for over three years, with its last use coming as a refugee center for Hurricane Katrina victims. The county still owes $30 million in construction debt on the nearly 50 year-old structure and has to pay a couple million a year for basic upkeep. Meanwhile, the cost to demolish it is thought to be upwards of $70 million. Renovating it for some use or another will be a couple hundred million.  It’s a disaster, frankly.

And it’s a disaster that won’t be resolved anytime soon:

The dilemma of the deteriorating Houston Astrodome remained unresolved Tuesday with the passing of a deadline to put a bond referendum before voters in May. Harris County commissioners took no action on the ballot initiative to raise millions of dollars to do something with the 48-year-old vacant stadium. But no one’s really sure what to do with it.

A similar deadline last year to put the question before voters in November also came and went.

“We have waited for ideas for years and years on the dome,” Commissioner Steve Radack told The Houston Chronicle. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we wait years and years more before something happens.”

Eighth Wonders of the World ain’t what they used to be.

  1. fanofevilempire - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    70 million to demolish it, garbage sure does cost a lot.

  2. philliesblow - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    And I thought we moved slow in Michigan! Tiger Stadium was left up for 10 years after the Tigers left and the Silverdome is still up even though the Lions left in 2002. Thanks Houston!

  3. kjericho43 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    Let them play

  4. carbydrash - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    “cost to demolish it is thought to be upwards of $70 million. Renovating it for some use or another will be a couple hundred million.”

    This is a fascinating issue that I’ve seen come up numerous times. New York was dealing recently with issues regarding the future destruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge*…it needs to be replaced, it cost a couple hundred million much to tear down, which was deemed as too much, but also costs $50 million a year to keep it standing.

    I have no real editorial comments about this…it’s just strikes me as really strange. Has this always been a problem? Has the cost of demolishing things gone up? Or are just building too many things in ways where typical, more cost-effective techniques of demolishing will no longer cut it?

    *The Tappan Zee is arguably the least logically placed bridge in America, as it spans the Hudson river at its most comically wide point. The bridge is over 3 miles long! The reason? The state wanted to build a Hudson crossing close to New York…but any further south was jurisdiction of the Port Authority. So, they decided to spend tons of extra money to build it at literally the widest part of the river. The result: a shittier bridge that cost far more to upkeep, a shorter shelf life and this current mess. Nice work jurisdictional bureaucracy.

    • kopy - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      Monteal has the same serious problem with their Stade Olympique. If I remember correctly, they can’t implode it for various reasons, so it needs to be dismantled. That costs more money than they can spend. Plus, they’ve gone through so many roofs, and I don’t know if they’ve found one they can rely on to host events.

  5. sportsdrenched - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    On a smaller scale I see this a lot with farms around here. The prairie is littered with farm houses. Some of them rather elaborate with balconies and large verandas. Problem is. The owners pass away, and the kin, long since fled out of state are perfectly content to let house rot while leasing the farm land to those still farming in the area.

    Too expensive to sell/demolish. Too expensive to renovate. I wonder how many times in human history that perfectly good structures and shelters were abandon because no one wanted them?

    • vansloot - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:35 PM

      See: Roman Empire, Fall of the

  6. Marty McKee - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    How could it possibly cost $70 million to knock a structure down?

    • cur68 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      $70 mill? HA! The Big Owe in Montreal costs north of $264 million Canadian and it’s falling down on its own! I bet Les Québécois would give to mere $70 mil to be rid of that thing.

      • missthemexpos - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        Still amazes me that no one ever got seriously hurt with the all the large (thousands of pounds) chunks of concrete that have fallen off of the Big Owe over the years.

      • cur68 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        If they’d built that thing out of Lego it’d be sturdier.

    • cusoman - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:00 AM

      I have to believe a decent portion of that cost is hauling away the leftover debris.

  7. lyon810 - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Astrodome, meet Olympic Stadium

  8. mrlaloosh - Mar 12, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Just implode that ugly thing. Useless building. Make BP pay to have it done.

    • cackalackyank - Mar 12, 2013 at 10:16 PM

      I believe the reason for the high cost for demo is partly because it is so close to the ‘New’ Reliant Stadium that traditional methods for implosion cannot be used.

  9. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    For those curious as to why it is so expensive to demolish a building, I submit to you the following article:

    Basically, while it is believed the current estimates are inflated, (Similar domes ran near $20 mil to demolish) there are several factors that determine the cost. Including the current price of scrap, and if they plan on ever re-using the property for any new construction.

  10. gunpowderjones - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    I’ll make it go away for like, $50 mil. Come on Houston, this is a great deal I’m offering!

  11. historiophiliac - Mar 12, 2013 at 4:43 PM

    That makes me really sad. My folks went to the season opener it’s first year. They thought it was the future.

    • ugglasforearms - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:31 PM

      “Sad” was my first reaction too.

  12. multiplemiggs - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    sell it to the DOD and let the military blast the shit out of it for practice. Cleanup should only be a few mil after that

  13. professor30 - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    what boggles me is that the county still owes 30 million on a building that is 48 years old.

    • cackalackyank - Mar 12, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      It is mind boggling, but the debt in question is not from the oiginal construction. As far as I know the debt in question is from sometime in the eighties when they expanded the upper decks all the way around the outfield for the Tennessee Titans er I mean Houston Oilers.

  14. onbucky96 - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    And boom goes the dynamite…

  15. mrfloydpink - Mar 12, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    “The Houston Astrodome has sat empty for years and has been without a professional sports team since the Astros moved out 13 years ago.”

    Meanwhile. PetCo has NEVER had a professional sports team.

    • superpriebe - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:27 AM

      I’m calling BS. The Padres have had nearly a .500 record since moving to Petco, and they won the NL West twice. That’s a decent track record for a mid- to small-market club.

  16. prosourcetalk - Mar 12, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    No wonder Stonehenge has been around for so long

  17. nomoreseasontix - Mar 12, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Still carrying $30m in construction debt?!?
    That’s why you don’t want public money poured into a stadium.

  18. blazertop - Mar 12, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Blame goes to Bob McNair and the Rodeo. They won’t let anyone do anything with the Dome, unless McNair and the Rodeo get a cut on the deal. Follow the money trail for the truth.

  19. peoplesrepublic0fdabayarea - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    get the heroic people’s liberation army of north korea to test a missile on it in the name of the palestinian people!

  20. zoel0005 - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    The Metrodome in Minneapolis will be demolished and replaced with the new Vikings Stadium in the same spot. With our long winters and chilly temps, it leaves for plenty of time for critical thinking and decision making, apparently.

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