Fix-It Weekly Challenge – Houston’s Astrodome - Due on September 18

Everyone is welcome to any much or as little as you want to.....

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 12, 2011 at 6:45 AM
Houston's Astrodome was the first completely domed and air conditioned sports stadium, completed in 1965. Since the destruction of Astroworld in 2005, which used to be located right across the street from the Astrodome, there is no large amusement facility around Houston. Since its closing in 2004, the Astrodome has sat rotting and empty (although it was used briefly to house refugees from Hurricane Katrina in 2005). Since no one is using the facility, it would be easy to at least rent the building for a song. With larger and newer stadiums nearby, this facility will never be used again for sporting events or concerts, allowing whoever takes over the building to gut the interior down to the steel beams and start over. The interior is 9 acres and the apex of the dome is 200ft above the playing surface (in comparison, Nickelodeon Universe at MOA is 7 acres and 100 feet tall and the Adventuredome at Circus Circus in Las Vegas is 5 acres and 150 feet tall). Your budget is $200 million, $30 million of which is going to be set aside for administration, marketing, and renovation. With 2 million people living in Houston, no amusement park, and a large, empty building, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to fix it.

Submissions are due by midnight on Sunday night.

For a look at the rules, posting hints, and some budget guidance, please check out the introduction thread: Introducing.....The Fix-It Competition

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 12, 2011 at 6:43 AM
For tips on posting, please check out the introduction thread: Introducing.....The Fix-It Competition

From Nick Markham
Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:37 PM
May we use the land formerly occupied by Six Flags AstroWorld as well?

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 12, 2011 at 7:45 AM
In trying to keep this close to a real world scenario, we have to take into consideration that the developer that bought the land that Astroworld was on intended the land to be used for condos and has no interest in amusement parks. The Astrodome, on the other hand is a vacant building that is going to need some restoration, but the Register of Historical Building is looking into adding the Astrodome to their list, seriously limiting the possibility of knocking the building down, but it seriously needs a tenant to come in and use the building.

On a side note and a little bit of trivia, the destruction and sale of Astroland cost former Six Flags CEO, Kieran Burke, his job. He had promised the company execs that he could get $150 million for the land the park was on and then proceeded to close and demolish the park without a buyer. It took Six Flags a year and a half to find a buy of the land who wound up paying half the price Kieran Burke had promised.

So I guess my long winded answer is: no.

But.....I wouldn't be above allowing you to spend $100 million of your budget purchasing the land where Astroland used to be, but it is going to seriously limit what funds you have available to put rides in.....if you go down this route, it wouldn't hurt to do a little bit of research into Elitch Garden's move and Kentucky Kingdom's build up from nothing to major player and back down again. The $100 million would cover basic infrastructure at Astroworld as well as the purchase prices, taxes, fees, etc.

So I guess my answer really is: yes.

From Nick Markham
Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:43 PM

HOUSTON, TX - Multi-billionaire Nick Markham has announced the purchase of the former Reliant AstroDome by his investment group, Markham Industries. "I am just so excited what we have in store for the great state of Texas," Markham began. "There is a lot of tradition here, but we plan to keep that alive as much as possible."

The AstroDome was built in 1965 and was the world's first domed, indoor sports stadium. Markham said they plan to shell out the inside, but keep the famous domed-roof and exterior with some refurbishment to keep it to withstand any sort of hurricane, tornado, or earthquake to hit.

The brand new Astrodome Amusement Park & Resort is sure to entertain everyone. Featuring seven roller coasters, three thrill rides, eight family rides, and one water rides, the Astrodome will have it all:

From Nick Markham
Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:02 PM
-Texas Cyclone, a 93' tall wooden roller coaster built by The Gravity Group for a cost of $6 million, a recreation of the former Texas Cyclone at AstroWorld and the world's first indoor wooden coaster.

-Greezed Lightnin', a $12 million 175' tall Intamin Impulse Coaster will thrill guests with as it launches them at 70 mph!

-Texas Tornado returns to Houston after being bought from Isla San Marcos Parque Temático by Markham for $8 million, stands 115' tall and features four loops!

-Mayan Mindbender, a $15 million, highly themed indoor Vekoma mine train coaster that will take families through the inside of a Mayan temple!

From Nick Markham
Posted September 12, 2011 at 5:35 PM
-Serial Thriller, a $14 million compact B&M inverted coaster that will take riders up a 120' lift hill then down into a loop, cobra roll, Imellmann, and two corkscrews before returning to the station.

-Ultra Twister, a $5 million S&S El Loco coaster that stands 100 ft. tall and features the world's steepest drop at 122 degrees!

From Nick Markham
Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:06 PM
And last but certainly not least, XLR-8, a $30 million dollar Intamin that launches riders at a record breaking 150 mph out of the Astrodome up a 180 ft. hill and into a series of big air-time hills before returning to the dome, an ultimate thrill experience.

As for the other rides:

-A HUSS Giant Frisbee: $5 million

We will also have a family area featuring a tea cups ride, a flying elephants ride, a miniature drop tower ride, tiny toot boat ride, a miniature rocking ship ride, and a big play area for the kids: $13 million.

And we will spend $20 million dollars on restrooms, restaraunts, and shops to complete your experience.

At night, will will display a $10 million dollar laser light show that arcs across the dome, an experience you will surely not want to miss.

If one day is not enough, stay in an Astrodome Suite! These luxurious suites were added as part of the refurbishment, replacing the former football suites, where you have a balcony view of the entire park!

"This will truly be an experience unlike any other, "Markham continued. "We have record breaking thrills, an amazing night time show, delicious food, and luxurious accomodations."

Make your day an "Astroday" today!

Final Expenses:

Refurbishment/Staff: $30 million
Roller Coasters: $90 million
Nighttime Show: $10 million
Family Rides: $13 million
Restrooms/Restaraunts/Shops: $20 million
Thrill/Water Rides: $37 million

$200 million

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 12, 2011 at 6:19 AM
Very impressive. You are setting the bar quite high!

From David L.
Posted September 12, 2011 at 1:54 PM
Hey Nick, you may want to increase that steep drop because you can't keep that claim. Takabisha in Japan has you beat by 1 degree. Nice job by the way with the thrill park!

From Nick Markham
Posted September 12, 2011 at 5:36 PM
^Thank you, and check out that degree measurement...NOW! I am highly competitive and simply can't stand almost breaking a record... ;D

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted September 12, 2011 at 9:40 PM
I'd like to mention that the Astrodome is 2 miles from where I work. . . so, I'd be visiting during lunch.

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted September 12, 2011 at 9:47 PM
I'm going to try and come up with some ideas. . .

From James Koehl
Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:29 AM
Houston Country Fair Theme Park

The newest theme park in America brings a new name to America's first domed stadium. The Astrodome is now The Houston Country Fair Theme Park, and rather than being a symbol of the future, is now a celebration of the most cherished tradition of rural life in America, the county fair.

Guests enter the structure and pass through a rustically-designed entrance lobby which contains the usual support facilities found at all theme park front gates. They then enter the cavernous interior of the former stadium and discover that it is now evening. Evening?! It's a sunny day outside, but at the Houston Country Fair it is always night. The interior of the dome is completely covered with a massive black l.e.d. screen, the largest ever conceived. The stars are shining, the moon is full, and a few faint wisps of clouds can be seen gently floating across the sky in the moonlight. An occasional shooting star streaks across the night sky.

Guests don't spend much time staring at the sky, though, for in front of them spreads the Houston Country Fair, a wonderland of sights, sounds and even smells from the heart of America. This is not an "iron thrill park" designed for adrenaline junkies, but a park for families, for couples to stroll and experience, for children to discover what their parents experienced on summer nights many years ago at the county fair, and for adults to rediscover their childhood. It brings the best of the past and of our memories to the present, and allows us to relive those magical summer nights.

The first thing that most will notice is the lights. Millions of brightly colored lights everywhere, on food stands and game booths, on building signs and restaurants, and especially on the rides, spinning and twirling and drawing us to each attraction. Then the sounds of the park will be noticed- the screams of delighted riders as they rediscover the fun of a basic carnival spinning ride, the game barkers challenging a young man to win a teddy bear for his girl by knocking over the milk bottles with a baseball, the music from the calliope on the merry-go-round. And then the smells of food, deep-fried funnel cakes, barbequed ribs and ribbon fries.

This is not a theme park filled with cutting-edge-technology rides. Here will be found the traditional attractions that have been thrilling and entertaining fairgoers for a century or more. The one thing that makes these rides stand out is their quality. These are permanent indoor fixtures, so the wear-and-tear that makes the portable rides found at outdoor fairs and carnivals look and feel shabby and unsafe is absent here. The rides are clean, the paint on the carousel horses is not chipped, and no rust is seen on the framework of the Wild Mouse coaster. This is what an amusement park should look like.

The centerpiece of the midway is the Big Wheel, a magnificent 125 foot-high Ferris Wheel that gives riders a magnificent view of the entire fair. Lining the midway and surrounding the Big Wheel are found nearly every type of traditional fair ride: Tilt-A-Whirl, Scrambler, Wild Mouse coaster, Laff in the Dark (a ride-through scary fun house), and many others. Some are thrilling, some are silly, but all are fun and rich in tradition.

A special children's area features a dozen delightful rides in a themed setting resembling the barnyard of a farm. A carousel of work horses pulls "chariots" designed like wagons. A miniature tractor ride carries future farmers around a silo. Flying chicken hawks chase flying chickens around a chicken coop (reminiscent of a certain flying elephant ride). These are just a few of the exciting attractions created to entertain the youngest visitors to the Houston Country Fair.

What county fair would be complete without live animals? The barn and surrounding fenced-in areas house a wide variety of domestic and "wild" animals for children and their entire families to pet, feed, and learn about. Cows, sheep and pigs, deer, skunks (descented) and turtles are just some of the creatures that will be available for visitors to the farm to learn about. All will be cared for and supervised by experts in these areas. A pony ride will allow many "city kids" to have their first experience at riding on a horse.

The Rodeo Arena will be an "outdoor" facility where, twice a day, a rodeo will be held. Seating 5,000 guests, it will bring the excitement of this wild west tradition to the heart of the Houston Country Fair. Demonstrations of bronco busting, barrel racing, team roping and rodeo clowns will keep visitors on the edge of their seats during these exciting shows. Professional cowboys and cowgirls keep the traditions of the rodeo alive here. It will be emphasized throughout the show that the welfare of the animals is always being considered and monitored, and some of the more potentially dangerous rodeo practices will not be presented.

You can't have a county fair without food, and as mentioned before, the smells of the food venders will fill the Houston Country Fair. Dozens of food stands, just like those found at every county fair in the country, will offer every imaginable kind of food from freshly dipped and cooked corn dogs to spicy Tex-Mex treats. Two full-service restaurants will give foot-sore guests a chance to sit down and enjoy their dinners while being entertained by talented performers. The Dairy Barn will have a menu of all-American comfort farm foods, from meat loaf dinners to fried chicken platters. A stage at one end of the barn will showcase country musicians, comedians and cloggers in a non-stop entertainment showcase.

Das Barbeque is a tribute to the German settlers that were so important to the early development of Texas. This is a German beer garden with a barbeque twist to it, combining the best of the two cultures. Barbequed beef and pork ribs and chicken, chili and German potato salad, and dozens of domestic and imported beers can be found in this large dining hall, decorated to look like a mixture of a traditional German beer tent but with such Texan twists as mounted longhorn cow heads and plenty of Texas flags. Entertainment would be by bands playing German and polka music, and perhaps German dancers.

Let's not forget the carnival games! All of the traditional games of skill found in county fairs and carnivals throughout America are found here at the Houston Country Fair. The Ring Toss, Rope Ladder climb, Ring the Bell, Basketball Toss, and dozens of other games let guests try their luck and skill at winning all sorts of traditional prizes, from tiny kewpie dolls to huge stuffed animals.

Several times a day (night?) there would be a fireworks show. No, not actual fireworks inside the dome, but that is where the full capabilities of the l.e.d. dome over the fair would be demonstrated. The lights of the fair would be dimmed, patriotic music would be heard throughout the fairgrounds, and a magnificent fireworks display would be created on the dome overhead. Each display shown would be different from the previous one, so visitors staying at the fair all day (night?) would see several different shows throughout their stay. These shows could also be changed to mark the different holiday seasons. The possibilities are endless.

From James Koehl
Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:43 AM
The largest single expense for the creation of the Houston Country Fair would be the l.e.d. dome, which I would estimate at approximately $20 million (including technical support). The rest of the installation could be done easily for under $100 million, since this is not a park with lots of high-tech/high-cost attractions. This would provide plenty of cushion for cost overruns, and especially a fund to allow for occasional replacement of rides and possible expansion in the future.

The Houston Country Fair will fill the void between the east and west coasts with a facility aimed at the American family and the pride we feel in this important part of American culture.

From James Koehl
Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:36 AM
I am dedicating the Houston Country Fair in honor of James Rao, who has long been a tireless fan and promoter of the flat carnival ride so ingrained in the tradition of the American amusement park and American county fair. Thank you, James, for your loyalty to this important part of American culture!

From Nick Markham
Posted September 16, 2011 at 6:23 AM
^Someone's kissing up to James... ;D

Just kidding... anyway, I like how you contrasted from mine instead of just trying to go bigger and better. Good job!

From James Koehl
Posted September 16, 2011 at 6:57 AM
More like the kiss of death from James Rao! To go bigger and better than yours would have required buying the Superdome and moving it next door to the Astrodome! You proposal is really outstanding. I seem to be heading more for the smaller, more intimate parks lately. Maybe that's why I keep loosing in the finals ;+( I barely had time to get this written at all- it's been a very busy week for me, and we're spending this weekend at Cedar Point for Halloweekends, so I had to write fast and skip the pics this time. BTW, your KD proposal was also great! How do you find the time to do that much work that fast?

From Nick Markham
Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:01 PM
First, as to how I do my submissions in such a short amount of time: short attention span. Can't focus on a project for longer than an hour. ;D

And as for your small park approach, it works very well for you. Bigger and better is not always what people go for. And your idea has much more that can relate to the culture in the area of Texas and the South in general. Just keep posting your ideas, I need some competition! :)

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:09 PM
Out of curiosity, do you have any problems with me submitting an idea? Since I have no control over the vote there would be very little to no conflict of interest.....and I haven’t thought up an ideas so it would be a down and dirty kind of thing.....and I don't need the points since I won't be able to compete in most things....

From Nick Markham
Posted September 16, 2011 at 4:05 PM
I have no problem at all. I love to hear ideas almost as much as I love to make them!

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:52 PM
Jeff, please submit. It's all for fun anyway! I'm working on one myself!

I'm actually having nightmares, given what the traffic in that area looks like already (especially on game days!). . . LOL!

From James Rao
Posted September 18, 2011 at 1:04 PM
Flat rides are to theme parks what hemorrhoids are to people... a pain in the a$$!!!!

Not only will James not get my vote, but I am rescinding his right to use my first name. Hereafter he will be known only as "that guy with the funny looking last name"!

Flat rides.... grrrrr.......

From James Rao
Posted September 18, 2011 at 1:11 PM
On another note, I honestly don't hate "flat rides" - they do have their place, especially in the park "that guy with the funny looking last name" described. I am more against the proliferation of carnival rides. A good flat ride (like the Giant Swing at Silver Dollar City) is a welcomed addition to any park.

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 19, 2011 at 6:41 AM
Sorry about not getting in here sooner.....I had surprise house guests over the weekend, therefore so much for my ride idea, and getting some instructions in here about voting.

The way we are doing this is a simple ranking system. Just create a new post below and list the entries in order starting with the best down to your least favorite. Start with 1st place all of the way through to the last one. If you wish to have a secret ballot, click on my userid and then click on send message.

Keep in mind that if you post a review, you will get a point, whether you posted an entry or not. Since I fell down in my duties, I will extend the voting window out to 24 hours after this post.

.......and incidently, during this post, the word that sounds like drum but starts with an F was giving me soon as I took it out, everything posted just fine....

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 19, 2011 at 3:22 PM
Nick Markham – I really like what you have done here with many nods to the old AstroWorld Theme Park. With a wide variety of thrill rides, you should be able to keep a crowd even if other parks are built nearby. I do have a concern that you will be running out of room quickly, but even so, I like that there was a concentration on tradition and thrills. This is an extremely well thought through park, one that anyone trying to actually move forward on this project would be wise to look over.

“You lost your first name” Koehl – I really like the idea of theming the park to nighttime and a county fair. It would be nice and well within the ability of the park’s LED system to simulate a sunset which would be really cool. I worry that an indoor theme park with live animals would cause a settling in of a stink that you could never get out. I think this park has all of the personality and theme that I always expect from Mr. Koehl and he has built a very quaint park. But I truly wonder how well this park will perform after it has been open for several months without the thrills that Nick’s park has in great supply.

My vote:
1. Nick Markham
2. James Koehl

Note: Everyone is allowed to vote....please get your votes in soon, the poll closes early tomorrow morning....

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted September 19, 2011 at 5:26 PM
I was dogsitting, so I didn't have access to the stuff I typed up. BOO!

I'll be happy to share my idea for a park revolving around Houston's ties to the space program, if anyone wants to hear it.

I have a question for James RE: his country fair park. How would you reconcile your park idea with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo that is held at Reliant Stadium (right next door to the Astrodome)?

For those that don't know, the show runs for about a month in February/March. The Livestock show is in the building to the North of the Astrodome, and the rodeo is held in Reliant. . . they have concerts every night (Brad Paisley, Sugarland, etc.), and the parking lot to the South is turned into a carnival area.

From James Koehl
Posted September 19, 2011 at 6:42 PM
Anthony, I really didn't know anything about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Perhaps we could give the Rodeo workers the month off for vacation and close the Houston Country Fair for that period to clean out the animal smell that Jeff is worried about. Actually, that was a very good question that I didn't think to research- nor did I have time to do so. Perhaps a seperate entrance could be provided and the rodeo arena could be used as part of the Houston Rodeo, like a second performance space.

Jeff, the animal smell is part of any county fair, but I'm sure that with proper cleaning the smell could be managed if not avoided nearly completely.

Now that I think of it, closing during the Houston Livestock Show might be a good idea. It would give the permanent employees a good long vacation, could give time to clean the park from top to bottom, and give time to change out rides and attractions and refurbish others.

Vote: 1) Nick Markham
2) Jim Koehl

Nick's detailed proposal, esp. his obviously well thought-out cost estimates, was superior to mine. I do think that the park might get a bit crowded with attractions, and that it would not be as attractive to families as it would be to the teen-aged crowd, but it would be a great park to visit.

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 20, 2011 at 7:03 AM
Current Point Totals:
Nick Markham - 13
James Koehl - 6

Anthony, I would love to hear your idea since it is a vastly different take than the other two ideas we had.

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