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Old 05-03-2015, 09:40 PM   #1
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Former Oiler, architect join Emmett in Berlin

A board member with the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation and the facilities consultant for NRG park have joined Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on his trip to Germany. The group will be visiting a resort south of Berlin in hopes of generating ideas for what can be done with the aging Astrodome.

The Tropical Islands resort was built inside a defunct airship hangar and boasts and indoor beach, water slides, spas, overnight accommodations and a rain forest. The Harris County contingent wants to glean ideas from that project and apply them to potentially repurposing the Astrodome.

"We're just looking for a good ideas right now that everybody can get behind and promote," said Carel Stith, former Oilers' defensive lineman and board member for the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation.

Stith, who played in the first professional football game in the Dome, believes the facility can live on. His main goal is to speak with financiers at the resort.

"I would like to know how it was funded which is going to be very important for us," said Stith.

Even though the old airship hangar that houses the resort is twice the size of the Astrodome, Stith says there are similarities in the economics of turning a huge building into something it was never intended to be.

"I also want to know what revenue streams can be generated to off set any initial costs," said Stith.

Bill Merrell, facilities consultant for NRG Park and the consulting architect for NRG stadium, met with Stith and Emmett at an informal dinner Sunday in Berlin to discuss the upcoming trip to the resort. Merrell said he will be looking at aspects of the resort the public never pays attention to.

"The structural system, the exterior skin, the mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems," said Merrell.

Merrell said he wants to know what engineers went through when transforming a hangar, originally designed to build Zeppelins, into a resort.

"The kind of problems they had during that process so perhaps you can have some lessons learned," said Merell.

Merrell said this will be key when it comes to deciding how to get the Dome up-and-running again, but as venue is was never initially designed for.

"There's no working mechanical system, the electrical systems are old, the plumbing systems are drained down and not operable,"said Merrell. "So it's a matter of being sure that we take the bones and that skin that everybody is so well familiar with and turn it into something new."

Emmet has said he is also particularly interested in learning how a rain forest and tropical flowers thrive in an indoor setting, since his vision for the Dome includes a multi-use indoor park.

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