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Astrodome History At 8400 Kirby Dr.


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Sept. 23, 2004, 1:03AM

The 'Eighth Wonder of the World' may be resurrected as a 1,000-room convention hotel and entertainment complex

New life for an old Dome


Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle

Kevin Fujii / Chronicle

DORMANT: Renovation of the Reliant Astrodome would cost about $400 million.

In a major shift, the company looking to redevelop the Reliant Astrodome has shelved plans to turn it into a space theme park and is instead looking to convert it into primarily a large convention hotel.

The new plan still calls for some rides, possibly even of the space variety, other entertainment, restaurants, a cineplex and retail stores.

But much of the area would be taken up by as many as 1,000 hotel rooms that would serve, in part, those attending conventions at nearby Reliant Center, said Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp.

"Part of our interest in this concept would be to increase the use of Reliant Center," he said Wednesday. "That would not be at the expense of the George R. Brown (Convention Center). We're trying to attract business to Houston that doesn't come here now."

If the plan becomes a reality, Houston, which never had a convention hotel until the Hilton Americas opened next to the George R. Brown late last year, would have two as early as 2008.

The city owns the Hilton and the George R. Brown.

In the coming months, Astrodome Redevelopment Co., the company seeking to find another life for the former "Eighth Wonder of the World," will conduct detailed studies of whether the facility would be profitable, company President Scott Hanson said.

If the studies conclude that it will be feasible, the company has lenders in place willing to finance what is expected to be a $400 million transformation, Hanson said.

The sports and convention corporation, which oversees the Reliant Park complex, and Commissioners Court would have to approve the project.

Without spelling out exactly what the company envisions, Hanson did disclose that the facility's amusement park component would have several themes, including space.

There would be no rides that require rails.

Many of the hotel rooms would overlook a striking interior that includes the amusement park features, retail stores and restaurants, said Bruce Broberg, an engineer at architectural giant URS, which is working on the project.

Motorists on Loop 610 who eye the scruffy stadium daily would view an exterior that was cleaned, restored and spruced up with new elements to give it a distinguished appearance, Broberg said.

Inside and out, "it will have a world-class appearance," Hanson said.

Hilton Americas would remain the biggest hotel in the city, with 1,200 rooms, but the proposed hotel could become the second largest.

Astrodome Redevelopment was created specifically to redevelop the stadium.

Among the companies involved are Oceaneering International Inc., URS, theme park developer NBGS International and Falcon's Treehouse, a Florida-based design firm.

Early stages

The company initially proposed dividing the Astrodome's interior into quadrants, each with rides and attractions intended to let visitors experience the sights and sensations of space travel.

The plan also called for retail stores and a hotel, but a much smaller hotel than the one now planned.

That initial plan was among seven proposals submitted to the sports and convention corporation when it solicited ideas on what to do with the mostly idle facility.

Hanson said it was too early to say whether the company would ask the county to help pay for the project and ask for tax relief.

Loston said, "There are many things that could derail this."

Hanson said the proposed hotel would draw new business to Reliant Center, not take it away from the downtown George R. Brown-Hilton Americas.

As head of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jordy Tollett tries to attract conventions to the George R. Brown. But he said he does not oppose converting the Astrodome into a convention hotel because it would simply mean more hotel revenue for the region.

He declined to say whether the proposed hotel would decrease business at the Hilton Americas.

John Keeling, a senior vice president at PKF Consulting, which provides services to the hotel and tourism industries, said the city and the county need to study whether two convention centers with nearby hotels could be profitable and not turn into cut-throat competitors.

"There are not very many successful examples of that around the country," he said.

In cities where they have been successful, usually one convention area is downtown and the other is at the airport, he said. "The reason for having it at the airport is for the fly-in, fly-out convention," Keeling said.

Similar projects successful

PKF Consulting provides services to the hospitality, real estate and tourism industries.

Astrodome Redevelopment's idea, he said, sounds similar to a project that was done outside Dallas, where a 1,500-room hotel with an indoor theme park was built.

"In general, what it sounds like they are trying to do is like the Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine," Keeling said. "That is an entertainment-driven convention hotel."

The Gaylord Texan overlooks Lake Grapevine and features a 25,000-square-foot spa and fitness center. Guests also can use the adjacent 18-hole Cowboys Golf Club.

Similar hotel projects also have been done in Nashville and Orlando.

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There would have to be more to it than simply a large hotel. The plan as stated in the news was rather vague, but I am sure the entertainment aspect would be a good addition. Plus theres ALL THAT SPACE.

Conventioneers must have something to do while here. We do have two large and flexible convention facilities in place and the additional lodging would eventually be absorbed.

I wonder how often the two facilities would butt heads for the same groups?

As a point of refernce; in Downtown Dallas there exists a large convention center and 3 large convention type hotels. The Adams Mark has close to two thousand rooms. The Hyatt Regency Reunion has been expanded and now has over one thousand rooms and the Anatole further up 35 has close to Sixteen hundred rooms. All three of these large hotels have their own in house convention and meeting facilities.

Dallas has benefitted from this synergy in the past by having the larger hotels co-host large events or groups.

I am certainly no expert on the hospitality industry, but a second convention hotel and center might help Houston eventually compete at the highest levels.

Short term (relative phrase) viability would be a serious question.

What can Houston and our surrounding areas do to help attract conventions of such size? What other amenities could or should we look into adding?

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I know!

We should build Virgin mega store or an ESPN zone club.  That will bring them in.

What the hell does Dallas have that's so entertaining? The Sixth floor museum does not an entertaining weekend make.

I have no idea how Dallas gets those conventions.It must be better city management because the place is boring.I have relatives who live there and drive down here pretty often for entertainment.

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Scrap the convention idea, Astroworld should expand into a top-of-the-line facility by building around the Astrodome. The bridge over the freeway could link "ye old Astroworld" to the new, modern complex. The Astrodome should be absorbed and turned into a REALLY cool ride or experience of some sort, something totally unique and unlike your traditional roller-coaster. The rest of the land would be devoted to parking garages and park space.

Hey, if visitors are really what we're after, look at Busch Gardens or Disneyworld, not some convention hotel complex. Plus, downtown's hurting for conventions as it is.

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  • 2 months later...
I can tell ya'll running out of topics in here, cause ya'll now talking about astrodome scoreboard. Jeez!

But the sign was famous! Even now at MMP they show images from the old scoreboard when someone hits a home run.

Shots of the "exploding" sequence:






Some more from the same site:

Dining facilities:


Presidential Suite


Hofheinz Office:


Under construction:


1965 Astros:


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I think the Astrodome should be used for soccer, because it's just sitting there and why build a new stadium when we have a city icon with no use.

With the money the city is planning to waste on a new stadium , they could add a moving pitch, like the one on Sapporo Dome in Japan. This feature would allow the dome to have grass instead of turf, and this idea could get the city some points to get a MLS franchise.I rather keep the dome as a sports venue instead of a hotel or something else.

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  • 4 weeks later...
There reportedly are a number of issues still to be solved, including what kind of playing surface would be used. The Astrodome has a permanent roof, and when baseball and football were played there, growing grass was a lost cause, leading to the advent of AstroTurf. A grass tray system is being studied.

Regarding this is it possible to put real grass back in. I believe it had real grass and clear windows on the roof when it was built. Then it was changed because there was glare when the players tried to catch fly balls. So if they cleaned the paint off of these and put in real grass would that work?

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Regarding this is it possible to put real grass back in.  I believe it had real grass and clear windows on the roof when it was built.  Then it was changed because there was glare when the players tried to catch fly balls.  So if they cleaned the paint off of these and put in real grass would that work?

Yes it would. However, for the city to be able to used the Astrodome as a multi-function, it'd have to be removable plates similar to that at Reliant Stadium.

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The best thign about this deal is that the Dome will have a future in sports, what it was built for.

As a traditionalist, I just had a hard time visualizing a mall, museum, or parking garage inside of the Dome. I personally think Club America will choose its permanent home to be the Dome instead of building a new outdoor stadium to double as a high school football facility. Club America and it's owners Televisa, do things on a grand scale and spend extravagantly. Nothing is grander in this city then the Astrodome. If all goes well as expected, I expect the Astrodome to be renovated to seat 30,000 by removing both east and west end upper deck stands.

So hopefully we've found a perfect fit for the future of the Dome in sports, as it should be.

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I agree completely. I've always had a hard time with some of the hokie (in appearance, at least) suggestions for salvaging the Dome. While, certainly saving old edifices is admirable and often, a new use is interesting and even celebrated, the proposals for the Dome just never seemed to measure up.

The proposal to make the Dome into a premier indoor track facility was the one idea worth pursuing. If it is only feasible in conjunction with an Olympic bid, so be it. But, it was a fitting use for the world's first indoor stadium.

A soccer specific arena with real grass also befits the Dome's heritage. A retrofit that reduces the seating capacity to a more usable figure (empty seats are a downer) could make the venue more intimate and space for innovative additions to increase attendance. Whether it features Field Turf or grass (my preference), an intelligently redesigned Dome would make an immediate splash in the MSL and the soccer world at large.

Plus, a rebirth of an American football icon into a world Football palace just has a great feel to it.

Maintanance and upkeep costs aside, I hope that financially, this is a workable deal. Clearly, Club America seems intrigued by it.

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i really hope that the mexican league team gets it because i can see them having more fans than the american team.

With such a huge hispanic population, houstons full of soccer fanatics who will totally flood the dome if we get the team.

id go see a game there too.

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Looks like MLS in Houston may be a done deal.  This article suggests a temporary home in the Astrodome, with a permanent home to be built later.


credit to blogHOUSTON for this link.

the article mentions the only current use of the astrodome is "some high school events and the rodeo". the rodeo moved to reliant as well right?

i hope this happens, using the astrodome for sports again would be great. haven't been there since the astros last season there...

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Guest Mastermindbuilder

The rodeo still have other things going on in the Dome, they call it "the hideout" They have concerts there, but the major rodeo have been moved to relaint stadium.

It will be nice to see this MLS TEAM move here to H-town. I know for fact, this will be the best place for them. Still then, the Dome will be temportary until they built the propose stadium by northwest mall off of 290 hwy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"The sale of United might be a precursor to a decision on whether the Earthquakes are sold. San Jose media last week reported that AEG would make a decision within 30 days on whether to sell the franchise.

The time frame coincides with an Aug. 18 deadline Astrodome Redevelopment Co. has with the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., which manages the Reliant Astrodome, on whether to proceed with plans to turn the stadium's grounds into a site for a hotel and convention center."


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Is Houston prepared for it's own emergencies? Astrodome is supposed to fit 25,000 people. We just started taking the refugees today. The brunt of the refugee buses haven't even arrived yet. We're already at capacity now? Where are the refugees going, and is Houston ready for it's own backup plans to come through if something falls through like this again?

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  • The title was changed to The Astrodome Movie
  • The title was changed to Astrodome History At 8400 Kirby Dr.
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