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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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david February 01 2014 at 4:41 PM

Here's an idea, plug all the holes in it, fill it full of water, stock it with fish and call it the World's Largest indoor fishing pond.

Realistically, please tear it down so that the taxpayers don't have to pay for it just sitting there. Strip all of the iron, brass, aluminum, and copper out of it first, and get raid of it. Every city that gets a new stadium doesn't keep their old one, they tear it down.

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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 to maryfailco's comment
Fred Zahnow 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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Jeff Pistana February 01 2014 at 11:10 AM

Can't we turn it into a church and fill it up with chrisian zealots? That's the Houston way.

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richsglobal February 01 2014 at 11:37 AM

Great Idea! God Bless You For Thinking Of That!

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Pope John February 01 2014 at 12:06 PM

And then implode it!

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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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thomashollman19 February 01 2014 at 10:18 AM


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rebeccagriffin3 February 01 2014 at 10:18 AM

I say turn it in to an indoor amusement park, or something people can enjoy

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