HOUSTON (KHOU) – Harris County Judge Ed Emmett says he wants to convert the Astrodome into the "world's largest indoor park."
Emmett made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at a press conference held on the floor of the Dome, a structure the county judge insists is structurally sound.
The county judge said the Dome's future must be part of overall plan for NRG Park. He added that public and private funding could be tapped for indoor park and recreation center plan.
"I believe it is time to put forth a new vision for the future of the Dome," Emmett said. "With that in mind, I am suggesting that we explore the concept of creating an indoor park and recreation area inside the Dome for the people of Harris County. The world's largest indoor park."
He said that under the new proposal the Dome would be open to the public at all times, except when special events are scheduled.
The county judge said he has been exploring the indoor park concept with local officials, stakeholders and interested parties for the past couple months, seeking input and suggestions and refining the idea.
"Rather than try to convert the Dome into something it was never intended to be, I think it is time to look back to the original vision of Judge Hofheinz," Emmett said. "That vision was to provide a place for traditional outdoor activities in a climate-controlled space. A space like none other in the world."
Emmett said he hopes that the Dome could be renovated in time for the 2017 Super Bowl, which will be hosted at NRG Stadium.
Just last week the Rodeo and Houston Texans released a poll that showed 2/3's of Harris County residents would favor demolishing the Dome and building a greenspace area and museum in the Dome's place.
Voters in Harris County turned down a $200-million plan to renovate the space into a multi-use public facility just last fall.