Mike Vance on the Nov. 5 Astrodome Referendum

THE UH Cougars played their home football schedule in the Astrodome from 1965 to the 1990s.

THE UH Cougars played their home football schedule in the Astrodome from 1965 to 1995.

Yesterday, in response to my August 31st column, Astrodome Area Ramblings on a Friday Night , friend and SABR colleague Mike Vance, who also serves as a force in the save “Our Astrodome” campaign, wrote some comments that I felt were genuinely deserving of their own bright spotlight on the seminal issues we are finally facing with the iconic Houston landmark.

With the November 5th Astrodome referendum now only weeks away, we are heading toward either a new start or a sad end to an architectural landmark that could mean more to the rest of the world than it does to the active voters of Harris County. If we lose the Astrodome to local apathy, greed, or misinforming information on the cost of its recovery to local taxpayers, what a both tragic and mortifying result that would be.

Read what Mike Vance has to say about it. He will have room below to respond to any questions you may have – and he certainly will have a blank date invitation to write his own new column on this subject as a guest writer for The Pecan Park Eagle any number of times he wishes to take it on between now and November 5th.

All we will do here is quote Mike Vance from his comments to TPPE on August 31st. Any elaboration or expansion to this column is also available today to Mike Vance should he have both the time and desire to take it on now. In the meanwhile, the PP Eagle will pose questions that logically fit with the answers that Mike provided yesterday.

1) How many choices remain among the many ideas that have been suggested for the Astrodome’s new use?

“The proposal that will be on the ballot on November 5 is the ONLY one we will get. It is either approve that plan to adapt the Astrodome for a multi-purpose venue that will be used by the OTC, Rodeo and all other major events at Reliant Park or it gets demolished. The time for other ideas is past.” – Mike Vance, 8/31/13.

2) Won’t that multi-purpose venue you speak of cost us arms and legs in new taxes?

“… the “higher taxes” will amount to a little less than $8 a year for a property owner whose house is valued around $200,000. (The Harris County average is $188k).” – Mike Vance, 8/31/13.

3) Houston tears down tons of old buildings every day. What’s the big deal with the Astrodome?

“For those of us who are passionate about saving the Astrodome, by far the most important building that has ever been constructed in our city, we need to educate the voting public. We have 12 weeks to do so.” – Mike Vance, 8/31/13.

4) Aren’t we talking about spending a lot of money on saving the Astrodome memories of a few long-term Houstonians? Isn’t that what we are doing – just asking people to spend money on emotional issues that have no economical basis?

“Then I suggest answering them on the economic merits. As I mention above, the cost is miniscule. Less than they spend on parking for one game or one beer.

“But that aside, the repurposed Astrodome is not about memories. It will enable Houston and Harris County to attract more of the very large conventions that bring millions of dollars into a local economy. The floor space of the New Astrodome will compliment Reliant Center to greatly increase capacity.

“The New Astrodome will also be a key component in the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four and other large sporting events that we wish to bid on. All of those, much like the OTC are huge plusses for Houston business.

“We can get something viable and vibrant or we can spend $100 million on a few more parking spaces to make the Texans more money. Anyone who cares about Houston, whether they’ve been here a long time or not, should support something that makes us a better city.” – Mike Vance, 8/31/13.

5) So what if some of us do value the Astrodome as an architectural icon and international symbol of Houston, a lot of our fellow Americans, and Houstonians, just don’t care about things of that nature – or history either – for that matter. What’s the point of even trying to save the Dome?

“Some understand the case for history, and where the Astrodome is concerned it is a history that far exceeds sports. The building was world famous and contains a litany of architectural firsts. More importantly, it is the very soul and embodiment of Houston’s can-do, bigger than life modern image.

“But for those who see dollars and cents, the case can easily be made that a facility that keeps the OTC happy and in town, that provides a state of the art space to lure large conventions and special events and one that can provide a revenue stream TO THE COUNTY as opposed to spending close to $100 million to get more surface parking that provides revenue for the Texans is the more solid idea.

“It is up to all of us believers to make this case and make sure everyone goes to vote. I know you are on board. Now we need lots more folks.” – Mike Vance, 8/31/13.

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4 Responses to “Mike Vance on the Nov. 5 Astrodome Referendum”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    As long as there is a dignified way to upgrade and make the Dome useful again, I’m all for it. But then I don’t live in Harris County.

  2. Bill McCurdy Says:

    Shirley Virdon writes by e-mail to all of us via Bill McCurdy from her iPhone:

    “Keep up the “push” to save the Dome. It is and has been one of the “Signature” sights when one talks about The City of Houston! That is worldwide recognition and that is good for the whole area in business of every venue!”

  3. Mark W. Says:

    I’m on board, but deep in my heart I believe it will be easier to save the Astrodome if that distracting airplane hangar next to it is torn down first.

  4. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Given the demographics the “emotional” appeal probably won’t suffice since those with the memories may have largely moved to the ‘burbs outside Harris County, though I’m on soft ground thinking that. $8 increase on some people is not “miniscule.” I’d pay it but easy for me to say…I live in Austin. Here in the Land of Nuts and Fruits we’re about to pay $175,000 for a statue honoring the homeless that urinate all over our “beloved” 6th Street, panhandle in front of your Capitol, and scream at passersby who try to get around them to go to lunch. Aside from the people who read this great blog, I doubt many in Houston care. They’d rather save the Galleria than Westbury Square, why would they want to save a building whose top achievements are a few Earl Campbell runs, midget drops, and Bobby Riggs throwing a tennis match to Billie Jean King?

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