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Astrodome designated national historic place

HOUSTON (AP) - A glimmer of hope surfaced this week in the effort to keep the Houston Astrodome from being torn down with the addition of the building, the world's first multipurpose domed stadium, to the National Register of Historic Places.

But the designation alone will not be enough to prevent the demolition of the so-called "Eighth Wonder of the World," according to officials.

The Astrodome's fate has remained uncertain since voters in November rejected a proposed $217 million bond issue to redevelop the stadium into a giant convention and event center. It had been home to baseball's Houston Astros and the NFL's former Houston Oilers.

The National Park Service announced this week the Astrodome had been added to its National Register of Historic Places, joining more than 1.5 million other buildings and properties.

The designation, mostly honorary, means any effort to revamp the stadium can be eligible for federal and state tax credits as well as other economic incentives, said Paul Lusignan, a historian with the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C.

But the designation doesn't place any rules on what Harris County, which owns the stadium, can do with the facility.

"A listing in the register doesn't freeze the property and make it untouchable," Lusignan said

Joe Stinebaker, a spokesman for Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, said the designation will have "very little impact" on the county's decision making process.

Stinebaker said the Astrodome's fate is currently "in utter limbo" as county commissioners have no timeline for deciding what to do with the structure.

No serious private or public proposals for revamping the Astrodome have been presented to county leaders since the bond issue was struck down by voters, he said.

"We get many ideas on what should be done. But none of those proposals ever include financing, which is really key to the whole thing right now," Stinebaker said. "Any savior at this point would have to come from the private sector."

Beth Wiedower, senior field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of various groups working to save the Astrodome, said she hopes this week's designation will aid efforts to find either a private entity or a public-private partnership that will invest in reusing the stadium.

"I'm more optimistic today than I have been since the election," she said.

Opened in 1965, the Astrodome hasn't been home to a sports team since 1999 and has been closed to all events since 2009. While still structurally sound, the iconic stadium had fallen into disrepair. Stadium seats, pieces of AstroTurf and other Astrodome items have been sold to the public in recent months.

The stadium's most prominent use in recent years was as a shelter for Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
lnoyo February 01 2014 at 9:01 AM

Take donations from the public, and make them part owners.

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rebeccagriffin3 February 01 2014 at 10:23 AM

its part of Houston, I remember the rodeo being there, and going to the concerts
They took it away built something else, they took Astroworld away, now there are talks another is going to be built somewhere soon, not Astroworld but an amusement park. there must be something it can be made into. that serves a purpose to Houston.

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Joe A Williams February 01 2014 at 10:21 AM

As a transplanted Houstonian, I will always remember the pride this city displayed when I was very young that the Astrodome was built right here in the Space City! Some thing need to be preserved and "The Eight Wonder of the World" is one of them...

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tcwalkeriii February 01 2014 at 9:52 AM

let's be honest. it ain't the coliseum

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Bob February 01 2014 at 9:47 AM

Maybe a Houston Sports or Texas sports museum. It was a place in it's time where a lot of great things happened in Houston so if they kept it standing,I would think a way to remember would be good.

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birds2nv February 01 2014 at 9:45 AM

I can't see taxpayers EVER being involved in building or maintaining these limited use, limited lifespan venues. They never generate enough income to payback the taxpayer. Let the team owners who are flush with money build their own venues. Taxpayers have been played as suckers for so many years subsidizing these million and billionaire!

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2 replies
Jeff Pistana birds2nv February 01 2014 at 11:09 AM

Ummm, the people of Colorado took it up the arse so that Pat Bowlen could have a new stadium at taxpayer expense. I buy gas, or food for my family and some of the money goes into his pocket.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
richsglobal birds2nv February 01 2014 at 11:43 AM

Wanna Know About Tax Payers Being On The Hook? Just Read About The Minneapolis Metrodome Vikings One BILLION Dollar Stadim Fiasco!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
maryfailco February 01 2014 at 12:49 PM

Or encompass it for Football, Basketball, Baseball,etc. See everything in one building. I would think that could pull in some serious bucks. Especially with a large gift shop.

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Rusty February 01 2014 at 12:41 PM

Houston----it is a part of the Texas heritage---find a use for it !

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maryfailco February 01 2014 at 12:07 PM

How about a new football hall of fame? I have not been to the one in Canton, Ohio in about 30 years.
Has it outgrown itself? I don't remember it being very large. Just a thought, I hate to see our landmark torn down.

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1 reply
Fred Zahnow maryfailco February 01 2014 at 12:21 PM

Now... That is a brilliant idea! Good one.

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Steve Wilson February 01 2014 at 11:14 AM

The REAL 8th Wonder of the World was originally the West Baden Springs Hotel in West Baden Indiana. It held the title of the worlds largest unsupported dome from 1902 when it was built until the Astrodome was built in 1965. The West Baden Hotel nearly fell in on itself until billionaire Bill Cook of Bloomington spend over $100 million dollars restoring it back to its former grander and the some. http://www.frenchlick.com/hotels/westbaden

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