Advocates of a plan to issue $217 million of general obligation bonds to redevelop the Astrodome in Houston hope to raise $250,000 for the bond referendum campaign.
The New Dome Political Action Committee supports the proposal by Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. to redesign and redevelop the 50-year-old Astrodome into a multipurpose special events center.
Harris County voters will be asked Nov. 5 to authorize the county to issue the debt supported by an increase in the county's property tax. County officials said the new debt could add $0.04 to the county's property tax rate, but not until 2015.
PAC members at a Sept. 12 news conference included former Harris County judge Jon Lindsay, current county judge Ed Emmett, and Dene Hofheinz, daughter of former county judge and Houston mayor Roy Hofheinz, who led the original effort to build the Astrodome.
Lindsay said the group hopes to raise $200,000 to $250,000 for a media campaign urging voters to approve the bonds for the Astrodome effort.
"It's going to be tough," Lindsay said.
The redevelopment program would convert the Astrodome into a space for festivals, conferences, and sporting events. It would be the home of the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
If the referendum fails, the Astrodome will likely be razed.
That would not be the Houston way, Hofheinz said.
"We make history," she said at the news conference. "We don't break history."
Emmett said the revamped facility would be an economic benefit that draws events and visitors from around the world.
"At the end of it, I believe Houston and Harris County will become the event capital of the world," he said. "There is no open space like this anywhere else in the world, and the fact that it's going to be air-conditioned and protected from the weather means the opportunities are endless."
The Astrodome was built in the early 1960s with $36.5 million of bonds issued by Harris County Houston Sports Authority. However, the redevelopment bonds will be considered county debt.
The facility has been closed since 2009. The renovation effort is projected to take 30 months.
Harris County's $2.5 billion of GO debt is rated triple-A.