Florida Today from Cocoa, Florida on August 25, 1968 · Page 8
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Florida Today from Cocoa, Florida · Page 8

Cocoa, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 25, 1968
Page 8
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iiiiiiiiiiiiiW Bpryvs , "5 U jv" RESETS - v j gjT V H VH flkM ft King of the Astrodome What's next for Judge Roy Hofhelnz of Houston who already owns a big - league ball club, the world's largest exhibition center, the circus and the Disneyland of the Southwest? BY 'GEORGE SHERMAN When London Bridge was put up "for sale recently, people in Houston were so Surejudge Roy M. Hofheinz would buy it that one 'newspaper announced the purchase without even checking with him. "It's the kind of thing we expect him ' to do," one of Hofheinz's friends says. "I bet the only reason he didn't was he couldn't figure how to make a profit on it." ' . .EvenTn Texas, Judge Hofheinz is a big man in every way, a 2ao - pound, rumpled six - footer who smokes a box of cigars a day and owns most of Houston's i 00,000,000 500 - acre As - trodomain, the world's biggest sports - entertainment - convention complex. A free - wheeling lone wolf like Howard Hughes, another powerful Houston boy, he aims to make his home town a permanent playtime showplace. "What you see here now is onlya small part of my future plans,"" says Hofheinz of his Astrodomain, where there is already plenty to be seen: The Astrodome, the world's first indoor and completely air - conditioned sports stadium big enough for baseball and football, so high that an 18 - story building could stand inside. The Astrohall, next to the Astro - ' dome, now the world's largest convention amphitheater since Chicago's McCormick' Place burned down. - - The Houston Astros baseball club, a soccer and a hockey team and half of Ringling Bros. - Barnum & Bailey Cjrcus (Mai clown in the photo above is the Judge, himself, in greasepaint). Astroworld, a T5cas version of Disneyland, featuring an Alpine ride with a real snowstorm and an extensive "outdoor" air - conditioning sys tem which cools every shaded outdoor spot in - the park. He plans to expand its present 57 acres into a permanent World's Fair - type entertainment - and - industrial - exhibit of 1 16 acres. Next to all this he's building andor leasing a nine - motel complex due for completion in three.years. " "Other people build a Coney Island and quit, or a race track and quit, or get a pro football team and quit," Judge Hofheinz says. "I pull every thing all together, and I won't stop until I make this a place where you can check in and spend a whole vacation without getting into your car until it's time to go home. I'm 56 years old now, so if I want to get that done in my lifetime, it will have to be done soon, around 1975." He shrugs off questioners seeking the tout worth of all this. "In Texas," hesays, "anybody - who talks higher'n a dollar and a half is called nouvcau riche. So make up any number of. millions you want I don't care." One thing is sure, though. When the Astrodomain is finally finished, the Judge and his three children will own all of it exoept the Astrodome(which he rents from Harris County for $750, - 000 a year on a 40 - year - lease) and half, the land it's built on, valued at $100,000 an acre. No stockholders, no partners, no government loans. As dazzling as the Judge's future plans is his past performance in an incredible career that started when he went to wo.rk at 15 after the death of his father, a laundry truck driver. While supporting his mother, he paid his way through college and law - school. Too busy to attend many classes, he talked his future wife, Irene Cafcalas, whom he met in college, into taking his law notes for him. "She was mad,' he recalls, "when I got an A and she almost flunked." At 19, Hofheinz passed the Texas bar exams and. at 24. he was youngest county judge ever elected in 'Houston. Finding himself deeply in An air - conditioned picnic table at Astroworld

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