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Texas officials put fate of Astrodome in hands of voters

MGN
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 - 9:44am

Muhammad Ali fought there, daredevil Evel Knievel thrilled thousands there and the Republican Party chose it for their 1992 convention.

It was once the home to the Houston Astros and Oilers - yet those glory days for the Houston Astrodome in Texas have passed, and recent times haven't been so kind to the iconic structure.

Built in 1965, the Astrodome was nicknamed the "eighth wonder of the world." It was the first of its kind: a massive air-conditioned stadium with a roof. The structure, with an inside height of 208 feet, has mostly sat empty since the Astros left in 1999 for a newer, more modern stadium. In 2005 it served as a shelter for displaced Louisiana residents during Hurricane Katrina.

Now the Astrodome's fate is in the hands of the 1.9 million voters in Harris County, Texas, where the vacant dome sits.

County officials voted Tuesday to put a plan on the ballot in November that would raise up to $217 million in bonds to redevelop the stadium, which would be funded by a proposed property tax.

"One of the most frequent questions I have heard in my six and a half years as county judge has been 'What are we going to do with the Astrodome'," Ed Emmett, Harris County Texas Judge, said in a press release. "Now the voters will finally get to decide."

The county is calling the proposed revival "The New Dome Experience," and hopes to transform the dated facility into a venue that could host many types of events.

Recently the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Astrodome as one of America's top most-endangered historic places. And just a few months ago Houston was selected to host the 2017 Superbowl at Reliant Stadium, just feet from the giant dome.

The city hopes its famous landmark will be a part of the big game festivities, but if voters feel differently, the Astrodome will be most likely be torn down.

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