One Couple Has a Plan for Turning the Astrodome into Houston's "International Multicultural Dome" (i.e., Mostly an Office Park)
Photo by Craig Hlavaty
The husband-and-wife team of Regina and Ed Seale are trying to stop the Astrodome from becoming another parking lot, working independently on plans for what they call an "International Multicultural Dome" in the Reliant Park complex.
Their plan -- seen here on Facebook -- would turn the Dome into what amounts to an office park and possible international consulate for would-be tenants from around the globe, with the short distance from the Medical Center being framed as a plus.
"We will have office space available and space for exhibits. It will be a concert hall, a gallery and an educational center. It will be a center of entertainment for Houston," says Regina Seale.
The Seales met with deputy director Kevin Hoffman and executive director Willie Loston from the Harris Country Sports Convention Corporation this past week at Reliant Park.
The couple came out of the brief meeting happy with the response of the directors. Architect Lettie Harrell was there, too, and they say that her conceptual drawings are currently being developed for further review. They do not currently have anything Hair Balls can see, though.
The Seales came up with the plan a year back and sent their ideas to Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who said that they needed to get their proposal in line before speaking with Loston and Hoffman. The Seales are currently working on more press releases to get their idea in front of Houstonians. Hair Balls received one this morning.
"This will be something that could have a lot of broad appeal to all Houstonians," the Seales say.
Ed Seale says that the asbestos in the building wouldn't be disturbed, to save money on development. This is where the Seales say that their Dome plan is better than others.
"As long as it is not disturbed, it would be safe," he adds.
This seems to go against the accepted notion that any asbestos is bad asbestos.
"Our plan is the only one that would be able to add space at an extremely low cost. When you walk into the new one, you will have the same feeling you had when you walked in the first time."
The Seales would auction off the Dome seats and other furnishings to help offset costs. Bye-bye rainbow gut seats.
"Everything would be removed. Structurally the building is fine; all it needs is a good refurbishing." Bringing the building up to code would be costly though, for any sort of use. And after Hair Balls' two visits inside the stadium, we can say it is not exactly structurally sound, but then again it is not rotting and collapsing. It's definitely without a certificate of occupancy. Not only that, building codes have changed a lot since it last hosted the public in 2005. What was on the level eight years ago could be a problem in 2013 and beyond.
"We have the most economically-feasible plan. We're not talking about something that would be liability, but a revenue-making venture," Mr. Seales says.
"It would be a cross between a shopping center and an office building," says Mrs. Seale, adding that there plenty of potential tenants are excited about the plan, including a few arts groups.
Mr. Seale says his first Dome visit was back in 1965 to see the Cincinnati Reds battle the Astros. Mrs. Seale was there for the Yankees game that opened the stadium.
"It is the last thing Houston has that is a reflection on our history. It's an icon in Houston and around the world," Mr. Seale says, who has worked in the advertising, food service, and retail areas in Houston for years.
The Seales see this as a volunteer effort, and don't want any ownership or titles attached to their Dome revival. They say the other plans floating around the Dome are wasteful.
"They are expensive and not revenue generating. As long as we keep the Astrodome, we are for it. We hope that the voters will like our plan when you look at the opportunities presented," said Mrs. Seale, adding that there could be tens of thousands of jobs created around this new Dome.
"What better address could you have but the Astrodome?"