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HOUSTON For years, Harris County officials have been trying to figure out what to do with the Astrodome.

But that could all change soon.

In his State of the County address, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Friday said he doesn t want to drive by someday and have to tell people, This is where the Astrodome used to be.

He said it s time for commissioners and the Sports and Convention Corporation to make up their minds: Do we keep the Astrodome, or do we let it go?

Emmett always a fan of the dome -- said he thinks we owe it to future generations to preserve the Astrodome as a gathering place for special events.

Known as the first domed stadium back in the 60s, it was called the 8th wonder of the world. It was home to the Astros and Oilers for years. It now sits unused with fire code violations.

As it stands now, in a county with some difficult budget decisions to make, the dome costs taxpayers nearly $500,000 a year just for upkeep.

There has been no shortage of ideas for what to do with it. Some have proposed making it into a luxury hotel, while others said it should be a film studio. At one point, it was even suggested that the
Astrodome would make a good science and technology center.

Emmett said no matter what it becomes, tenants will surface and will be committed to the dome -- but only if and when the county says it s committed to keeping the structure standing.

I think once you say, We re going to preserve it. It s going to be available to you, I think people will come to us with ideas, Emmett said.

Reliant Park General Manager Mark Miller said he will be working with Harris County to look at different options.

When a plan is formed for the Astrodome, the judge said voters will make the final decision.

We knock down too much stuff that brings a lot of memories to people in Houston and turn it into parking lots, said Deb Nowinski, a rodeo attendee.

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