Harris County officials are forced to sit and wait on any decision about the Astrodome while the Texas Historical Commission debates a State Antiquities Landmark designation for the historic stadium.
Voters last year rejected a $217 million bond proposal to transform the Astrodome into a multi-purpose facility.
Judge Ed Emmett is quick to point out the vote was on the bond issue, not to demolish the stadium.
Emmett briefed Astrodome stakeholders of the situation Wednesday morning, adding the designation itself would somewhat tie the hands of county officials to either repurpose the facility or even tear it down.
"That means we can't do anything to the dome without getting a permit from the Texas Historical Commission," Emmett told reporters.
Beth Wiedower at the National Trust for Historic Preservation says that additional hurdle is alright with her.
"The state and federal government have determined that the Astrodome is worthy of that extra red tape, that it’s historic significance and its cultural significance is worthy of a little extra time and a little extra effort," she said.
Emmett insists no proposal regarding the Astrodome is currently before county commissioners or the county’s Sports and Convention Center. However, the designation could open state and federal tax credits for would-be developers.
"If the repurposing were done in conjunction with a private entity, then the private entity could use those tax credits, and that might be an incentive for people to come forward with an idea," Emmett added.
Texans team president Jamey Rootes says time is of the essence, though it remains out their hands.
"We have not only our season, rodeo season, NCAA, Super Bowl, very important opportunities for Houston to put its best foot forward," said Rootes. "It's a public process, it’s a public facility and we are interested third parties."
The Texas Historical Commission is expected to make its decision July 30.