The Astrodome: The Plans Just Keep Getting More Ridiculous

Note: The following information about Harris County officials' redevelopment plan for the Astrodome is not a joke. We're serious. One option, costing $1.36 billion, really does call for a Starship Navigator and an Earth Orbit Command.

The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation released today a master plan for Reliant Park, including options for what to do with the Astrodome.

The project, excluding the Astrodome part, calls for a new $324 million hotel, a replacement for Reliant Arena, a huge parking garage, and a few other features like a bridge and plaza.

But the Astrodome is what matters. Here are the three options (photos included):

1. Reliant Park Plaza: Here's the plan we think makes the most sense. Demolish the Astrodome and use its footprint for more parking and green space. There will also be a "signature water feature."

Estimated Cost: $128 million, all publicly funded.

2. Multi-purpose facility: Basically, the interior of the Astrodome is gutted for exhibition and festival space. There would also be a planetarium and a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) institute.

Estimated Cost: $324 to $374 million. Only $324 million would come from public funds.

3. Astrodome Renaissance: Mark Miller, the general manager of Reliant Park, called the Renaissance plan the "dream picture." "This is really where we really want to go," he said.

The STEM center and planetarium would stay, but added features would include a Starship Navigator, an Earth Orbit Command, a Deep Ocean Quest, and an Energy Frontier. "Students could come in and plan, execute and conduct missions into deep space," Miller said.

Estimated Cost: $588 million. Only $324 million would be publicly funded.

Any of these plans are still a long way from becoming a reality, especially when public funds are involved. Edgardo Colon, executive director of the sports and convention corporation, said a public vote would probably be needed.

"Personally, I would like to preserve the building," Colon told Hair Balls after today's presentation. "But the reason we have to talk about [Reliant Park Plaza] is because that's one of the things people are talking about."

He added, "If that's how much it's going to cost to demolish it and have nothing, then give me some more money, and I'll make something out of it."

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