The New Astrodome, Ladies and Gentlemen

Something had to be done.

After today's Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation board meeting -- and pending acceptance from Harris County Commissioners Court -- the Reliant Astrodome will become a multipurpose spot with the potential for hosting concerts and, yes, football.

Now, don't get your hopes up too high. While the Astrodome's outer shell isn't going anywhere, the inside floor would be raised to street level to create a 300,000-square-foot performance area.

That means capacity will be severely decreased -- 5,500 for a hockey game, 5,000 for high-school basketball tournaments and 15,500 for football, which, for the circa 1996 Oilers, would have been a badass turnout.

If the $270.3 million project gets the thumbs-up by Harris County Commissioners Court, the HCSCC board hopes to get the proposed plan on the ballot for a public vote. If it passes, officials may try to lure the 2016 Final Four and the 2017 Super Bowl to the improved digs.

The master report also includes the demolition and replacement of Reliant Arena, which will cost an estimated $385.4 million.

The cost to taxpayers for the Astrodome overhaul and a new 10,000-seat Reliant Arena has been pegged at $523 million.

Obviously missing, to the chagrin of local television station cameramen -- who later looked dejected as they filed out of the Reliant Center meeting room -- was a grand unveiling of artist renderings. Aside from bar graphs and cost breakdowns, the only other visual was of bored HCSCC board members.

There had been talks by project consultants about massively renovating the Astrodome to include retail and art-centric outlets like museums. But during the firm's analysis, such amenities would have cost an additional $115 million to pull off.

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen