Harris County commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward on a $105 million repurposing plan for the Astrodome.
Judge Ed Emmett says raising the floor for parking is needed for upgrades and maintenance of NRG Stadium.
"If we don't have the Dome to generate that revenue then that whole complex is going to begin to fall apart a little bit, so we owe it to our tenants to keep it first class," he said.
Critics argue the money should be spent on flood control instead.
"Two-thirds of the money being spent on the Dome could not be spent on flood control anyway," said Emmett.
"Flood control is job one. We still have mental health. We still have the jail which is the largest mental health facility in the state of Texas, that's wrong. We have a lot of other issues, but the Astrodome is a building and it's a useful building that we're putting to use."
Because the money comes from the general fund, property and hotel tax revenues, and parking fees for the project, commissioners could bypass a public vote.
The Dome currently costs taxpayers close to $170,000 a year to maintain,
Construction on 1,400 parking spaces and transforming the facility into a venue for festivals and conferences is expected to begin later this year.