Is it time to let the Astrodome go?
It's sat for almost a decade, unoccupied. And as city leaders continue to hem and haw about it's future, it continues to deteriorate.
- Ah, yes. The great debate: Do we turn the Astrodome into something, or do we implode it?
The estimated price tag of $78 million suggests one of two things to me: Someone is either being really too sentimental about the dome, or someone wants to shove several million dollars of taxpayer money into their jumper and flee to the nearest Caribbean country, never to return.
Like most stadiums its age, the Houston Astrodome - *ahem* Reliant Astrodome, apparently - has not aged gracefully. Like an old ship mothballed in a harbor, it looks like it's been ransacked and rusted out.
- And it's not an uncommon fate for places of sentimental value to a community. Buffalo's Municipal Auditorium, home to the NHL's Buffalo Sabres from the 1930s to the mid-1990s, was shamefully allowed to decay for almost a decade before the city of Buffalo built up the nerve to part ways.
The universal opinion of everyone who toured the Astrodome when Reliant Park's handlers opened the doors and showed people around was almost universal: Depressing.
- But to many, it still carries with it a significance as being more than a baseball or football stadium. It had the lofty name of being the "Eighth Wonder of the World." It was the first domed stadium, and holds a special place in so many people's hearts as the first place they went to see a baseball game. It carries significance in a sentimental sense and in its revolutionary design for the time.
It carries such significance that it was nominated and made the list of Places that Matter by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Harris County really wants to save it, something they have been trying to do for the better part of a decade now:
- ... From 2012 ...
- ... or back to 2002, when the Dome still hosted activities and had a potential future as an Olympic venue.
Here's a better idea: Blow it up.
It's too close to Reliant Stadium? So was Cinergy Field. It's a rigid dome that will cost a lot to bring down? It didn't for the Kingdome years ago.
The most resonant argument: But it's a place of historical significance?
Yeah, that's true. But so was Texas Stadium. And Yankee Stadium. And Old Comiskey Park (Which fans in this video were none too happy about, though). And the Boston Garden.
But at the end of the day, years of political stammering and lip service have doomed it. Is a building that has fallen into such a state of disrepair worth saving? Some venues get to a point where they have been allowed to decay to a point where it would cost too much to save. And it would seem that the Astrodome - largely neglected for the last decade - has reached that point, or is close to it.
The fact of the matter is, what was a modern marvel decades ago is now an eye sore. No one has come up with a viable plan for it yet, and with each passing day, the old Astrodome rots further. It had its occupancy permit stripped in 2008 for being unsafe, and has only gone down hill since then.
Yes, the Astrodome represents a time when Houston looked to the stars and saw its future. But in a way, it's a relic of that time. The city has realized its future as one of America's major metropolises, and is the center of the energy industry.
But so many I read about react to the Astrodome like a family member on life support. They can't let it go, and no scheme to save them is to cockamamie, no amount too little.
And yet, it isn't really a family member, is it? It's a building. An old building that hasn't served a function or purpose for a decade. One with ripped up turf, dusty seats, and would require more than a fresh coat of paint to bring back to standard.
Perhaps it is time to let the old dome go.
Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to like or comment.