Plan for Astrodome's future still up in air
Harris County Commissioners are no closer to deciding the fate of the Astrodome than they were before the June 26 capital improvements meeting. Last year, with money appropriated by commissioners court and other sources, the county's sports and convention corporation engaged with consultants to further study the organization's master plan, focusing on the future of the Astrodome, Reliant Center and Reliant Arena.
The decision on how to proceed is now up to commissioners, who can choose to do nothing with the facility, tear it down and build a park area, or renovate Reliant Arena. The convention's chairman, Edgar Colon, also said there is still an open door in regards to more suggestions for the facility.
"We have a lot of people who want to keep the Astrodome, and some who want to tear down the Astrodome," said Judge Ed Emmett. "In replacing the arena, the question I think everyone will have to answer sooner or later is why would you tear down the Astrodome and build something completely new versus converting the Astrodome into a replacement of the arena?"
If commissioners move forward with a $656-million option to renovate Reliant Arena and turn the Astrodome into a multi-purpose facility, a bond election will be necessary to fund the debt service requirements.
"I'm sure this will be one of the weightier decisions we have to make," Emmett said.
County's population to exceed city of Houston's by 2018
Nearly 2 million people live in Harris County, which has the largest unincorporated population in the country, according to a new budget management study presented to commissioners.
"When you go back and see what happened over the last decade, we had tremendous growth in the unincorporated areas by about 600,000 people," said Bill Jackson, county budget officer. "To put that in perspective, that's the size of Seattle, Denver and Washington, D.C. The commissioners had to work to keep up with that demand and build the infrastructure to move forward."
Although about 2.1 million people live in the city of Houston—compared to 1.6 million in Harris County—but the county population is expected to surpass the city's by 2018, according to the study.