The 48-year-old dome hasn't been home to a sports team since 1999. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Houston-area voters are taking to the polls on Tuesday to decide the fate of the 48-year-old Astrodome, the world's first multi-purpose domed stadium and once the home of MLB's Astros and the NFL's Oilers.
According to Juan A. Lozano of the Associated Press, local residents can either vote to authorize the approximate $217 million in bonds it would cost to transform the venue into an exhibition and convention center, or reject the proposal and likely allow it to be destroyed with a wrecking ball. In 2010, a study found that it would cost $78 million to demolish the dome, including $10 million for asbestos removal and another $10 million to erect a plaza on the site after the demolition.
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A consortium of mostly grassroots organizations have joined together under the slogan, "Save the Astrodome," but some opponents to the measure say the money could be better spent elsewhere:
"I love the Astrodome. It's the memories of my childhood. But pouring good money after bad is a bad financial decision," said Michael Berry, a former Houston councilman.
If the referendum passes and efforts are made to convert the dome into a convention center, the $217 million in bonds would go in part toward creating 350,000 square feet of exhibition space by removing all of the interior seats and raising the floor to street level. A 400,000-square-foot plaza and "green space" on the outside of the structure would be also be created.
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The Astrodome, which originally broke ground in January 1962, hasn't been home to a sports team since 1999 and has been closed to all events since 2009. Its most recent significance was to serve as a temporary shelter in 2005 for Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. More recently, on Nov. 2, thousands of people purchased stadium seats, AstroTurf and other pieces of memorabilia at a "yard sale" and auction.