As we noted in November, the Houston Astrodome is likely to be demolished after Harris County voters rejected a referendum that would have authorized $217 million in bonds to save it and turn it into a multi-purpose convention and entertainment center. That's the discouraging news. The more encouraging news is the historic stadium may have received a reprieve this week when the National Park Service's decided to add it to its National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
It's a small glimmer of hope, as Paul Lusignan, a historian with the NRHP, explained on Friday. The honorary tag could make it easier for Harris County to revamp the Astrodome by making their future plans eligible for economic incentives, such as federal and state tax credits. But it's far from a lock or even a likely event that the designation will change the stadium's fate.
"The big misconception that you constantly hear is that it's listed on the National Register, it can never be torn down. That's not true. It has never been true," Bush said.
The original referendum only received 47 percent support from voters, so there obviously isn't much urgency in the community to keep the dome around. However, no deadline date has been set for a final resolution to be reached, either.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says the hesitation may stem from a fear that they're giving up the fight too soon, and that maybe the new honor will create a renewed interest in the project.
"The reality is I think we're all, maybe still, hoping that some white knight is going to come in and say here's the solution of what to do with the Dome and here's the money to pay for it. We're not there yet," Emmett said.
And it may never happen, which would be unfortunate. The building has so much incredible history — as the Stew's own Mike Oz explained in depth back in November — and hosted several memorable games and events outside baseball and football. It was rightfully dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" and it would be a shame to see it reduced to rubble while it remains structurally sound and useful.
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