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Astrodome update

Via Eric McErlain comes this story about the status of the Eighth Wonder of the World:

The vastness of the Astrodome still impresses, but little else does. The plumbing is unreliable; the AstroTurf carpet is stained and coming apart at the seams; the seats are rusting on their moorings. The air conditioning still works, but only because it doesn’t need to most of the time.

Saddled with such a dinosaur, the Astrodome’s overseers are trying to engineer its rebirth. Last week, the Sports & Convention Corp. invited proposals for redeveloping the Astrodome — and, in the process, for reinvigorating the most visible symbol of the United States’ fourth-largest city.

But what to do with it? Houston hardly needs another big stadium. It already has two others, both of them state-of-the-art venues with retractable roofs, including Reliant Stadium, which is next to the Astrodome and home of the Houston Texans, an NFL expansion team. Nor does it need a new convention center; a massive one of those, known as Reliant Center, has been built at the same complex, Reliant Park.

“Any redevelopment plan of the Astrodome is going to be totally different than what it was used for in the past,” said Mike Surface, a developer who is chairman of the board of the county’s Sports & Convention Corp. “We’re trying to hang on to some of the historical significance, but I don’t know if people would recognize it as you and I know it today.”

Surface and other officials have been careful to say they do not favor razing the Astrodome. Instead, they have suggested converting its grimy concrete filigree walls into a gleaming skin of glass and steel, and incorporating a hotel, restaurants and an arena that could accommodate ice events, horse shows, concerts and assemblies under the famous dome.

Others have suggested the Astrodome be transformed into a splashy museum of science and technology, a colossal shopping mall or a biosphere featuring a rain forest and botanical gardens.

As I noted previously, there was some talk about turning the Dome into a casino. If it ever happens, be sure to look out your window to see all the pigs flying by.

Some people are upset that the Dome may be doomed:

The suggestion that the Astrodome may become something unrecognizable — or, worse, that it may be torn down completely — upset some Houstonians. The Astrodome may be just 38 years old, but to many people here, it is an unsurpassed icon of municipal history and a singular point of civic pride.

“I am a fourth-generation Houstonian and am tired of not seeing anything of history left in our city because of progress,” wrote Susan Sattler, one of scores of people who put their names to an online petition called “Save the 8th Wonder of the World.” “Where is our pride in our past?”

Another signatory to the petition took a harsher tone. “The Astrodome is the 8th Wonder of the World and you want to tear it down for parking?” wrote Frank A. Harbuck Jr. “What stupid idiots. Most of you probably aren’t even from Houston.”

The petition is here, in case this cause tickles your civic-activism bone.

Personally, I think the Dome is toast, and a few (193 when I checked) signatories on an online petition ain’t gonna make any difference. The Dome had its farewell tour for the Astros and the Rodeo, and the place had deteriorated to the point where any regular attendee would be glad to never see the place again. I’d much rather put my energies into protecting neighborhoods from rapacious development than worry about the fate of the Dome. It’ll be a sad day when it’s torn down, but we’ll get over it.

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26 Comments

  1. Chris Quinones says:

    I hadn’t realized it’s still standing. A testimony in itself, I suppose.

  2. Charles M says:

    <sarcasm>
    Maybe they should figure out how much short of a billion we are on stadium costs and use that as a starting budget. Or better, Brown could declare the Reliant area a TIRZ and we could really watch tax dollars being spent.
    </sarcasm>

    I hate to see the dome go but for G–‘s sake, we’ve got more pressing issues to deal with.

  3. Paul Massey says:

    I think the Dome is a signifigant part of Houston history and to tear it down would be a crime. I have so many fond memories of the Dome and what i was doing at that point in my life. Do anything with it, but please don’t blow it up!!!!!!!!

  4. Mark Edwards says:

    Ski Houston. That’s what I think we should do with the Astrodome. I think an indoor winter sports facility ..including snowskiing is perfect. This already exists in Japan, and I think is under construction in Dubai…we could be the first in America, and God knows Texans love to ski.(Or at least try) Anyway, it would certainly recapture that cutting edge spirit…how to pay for it, now that’s another question.

  5. Josh weeks says:

    Hi aint from Houston but i am from Conroe about 1 hour away.i aint been to many places but you know the Houston Astrodome is a place that i have been to and i loved it i mean the first time i saw it i fell inlove with it the sightof a giant placfe and me a little person stand up to it i am so little but my point is please don’t tear the Dome down it means a lot to me and my family please take this into thought if you built something and it meant alot to you and someone wanted to tear it down what would you do and feel god bless and thing about what i just said love ya bye

  6. Josh weeks says:

    Hi aint from Houston but i am from Conroe about 1 hour away.i aint been to many places but you know the Houston Astrodome is a place that i have been to and i loved it i mean the first time i saw it i fell inlove with it the sightof a giant placfe and me a little person stand up to it i am so little but my point is please don’t tear the Dome down it means a lot to me and my family please take this into thought if you built something and it meant alot to you and someone wanted to tear it down what would you do and feel god bless and thing about what i just said love ya bye

  7. Donald Crew says:

    I love the ASTRODOME !!! The new configuation should have a 12,000 seat arena, a hotel, a 30 movie megaplex, 5 restaurants minimum, 6,000 seat amphitheater, 2 nightclubs, a large shopping center, bowling alley, 3-D movie theater ( Short films on Texas History, ASTRODOME- King vs. Riggs, Ali, the Astros, the Oilers, Houston vs. UCLA basketball, astroturf, simmulation of the famous exploading scoreboard ), save 1 old luxury box and maybe the press box. Remove the outer ramps and paint off the dome itself for a clear window effect. Another words the outside has the original 1965 look. Don’t blow up the Dome !!! San Antonio has the Alamo, Riverwalk and Hemisfair Tower. Dallas – the Cowboys and Kennedy mishap. Austin – the history and the music. Houston has nothing from a tourist point of view, unless you keep “The 8th Wonder Of The World”. Thanks for reading. Where should I send my proposal to the biggest name of importance? Don Crew, Huntington Beach, Calif.

  8. Rich Tomlinson says:

    Tear it down and sell it piece by piece . Then you could dump whats left in the gulf, creating a reef (the astrodome reef) for sport fishermen. Thereby keeping with it’s sporting past. You could offset the cost by upping the cost of a saltwater tag on fishing liscenses.
    Whatever you do, keep an open mind and be creative. You CAN turn a profit AND make the fans happy if you use your brains!

  9. billy says:

    i think tearing down the dome is the stupidist thing ive ever heard of tear down the reliant the seating isnt as good and the dome is part of texas history and there would be many of mad people and protesting and riots.

  10. Trent says:

    I love the Astrodome! My dad introduced me to it in the late 80’s when the Astros were in the races for the world series, but as everyone knows, they never made it. The astrodome played a big part in it. I wish Drayton McClane would have realized that two years in that match box stadium they play in downtown would end up like the Astrodome, attendence wise. The Astros were drawing crowds of even capacity today as they were their last year in the ‘Dome. LONG LIVE THE ASTRODOME!

  11. Raymond Philibotte says:

    I can’t believe that a building can deteriorate that much in 38 years. Was it made of cardboard. Nobody seems to like history anymore don’t ask me why. Make it into a museum or let highschool kids play games there. I just cannot believe that it can’t get renovated. The coloseum in rome is still standing for gods sakes.

  12. Pat says:

    I remember visiting Houston in the 80’s and attending Astro games at the dome and being awed by it’s amazing dimensions. But recently while flying into Houston, I looked out the window and said to my wife, “Hey cool! That must be Reliant Stadium. And what’s that little building next to it?” My God! It’s the Astrodome! If anyone wanted to preserve the dome’s historical significance, the last thing they’d want to do is build something next to it that dwarfs it. And that’s what Reliant Stadium does. I’m as much of a sentimental and historical person as anyone, but the Astrodome has outlived it’s usefullness. It has served Houston well for nearly 4 decades. It may be time to let the Astrodome slip into history.

  13. Greg says:

    I first visited the Astordome in 1972. It was so awesome, I built a scale model of it as a hobby. That model is now at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Although not on display publiclly, it represents a part of history that should not be lost.

    The Astrodome is an icon…tear it down, and you will tear out the hearts of many of us. If Houston can afford to keep shelling out millions each year for a new stadium for football and baseball, surely the city can afford to keep one building that is to Houston what the Space Needle is to Seattle.

  14. Joshua Buffalo says:

    Who was ther when they gave out the Nolan Rayn poster after he got the record for the nost strick outs? I was!!! It was my 8th birthday, a day that I will never forget. I do not live in Houston any more, but when I go home I always drive by the dome. That is how I know that there will be things that will never change. The world might be going to hell, but seeing the dome lets me know that everything will be OK. SAVE the DOME. Thanks

  15. Ross Jackson says:

    Jesus, enough is enough! Look at the great stadiums of the past that we’ve lost. Metropolitan. Memorial. Arlington. Ok, Arlington wasn’t so hot, but the point is, we’ve got to hang on to our history. If you don’t remember where you’ve come from you don’t know where you’re going, and this country has a big enough issue in that department. I have read, with interest, every single post on this site. I don’t agree with everyone, but I will say that the suggestion to have the arena, the restaurants, bowling alley, night clubs, hotels, etc makes the most sense to me. It’s revenue, improves the economy, AND we get to keep a state, not to mention NATIONAL treasure.

  16. Ross Jackson says:

    Just one more thought: The Astrodome served us well. Let it continue to do so. Texas has the larges prison population in the nation. Turn it into a Prison. Why not? Let the Grand Lady continue to serve her state.

  17. John Limato says:

    BLOW IT UP! Its useless

  18. John Limato says:

    You people check this matbe once a week. But you know you should blow it up or if you want put in new air conditining get new seats get rid of the big walls ang get the new king of turf or grass and make it open and close or open.Your asking whos going to play there the long horns or any other Minor league team

  19. Johnny says:

    just blow it up or do somthing with it but just get it out and make somthing useful there

  20. Wayne says:

    What a swan song for the Astrodome! The evacuees from Hurricane Katrina fill the dome and the volunteers fill it with love and caring. What better way for the Atrodome to go out in style!

  21. Bobby Hammond says:

    I would like a try out with the texans.Please contact me at Telephone #713-278-1496 or 832-283-0965 Address 2205 Hayes #4709 Houston Texas 77077

  22. Andrew says:

    Save it! Make it into something awesome and useful!! If the Dome goes, I think that will be the last straw for me…I’ll be moving to another city!

    They really should have moved all of Astroworld in there!

  23. jc says:

    no offense to the people who love the astrodome but the turf is stained and coming off and the chairs are rusty knock it domwn and put a memorial and a mall like they did with the twins old stadium

  24. Max Powers says:

    the astrodome is a part of history is a land mark the first indoor sports stadium every copiers its the best thing thats happend to sports

  25. Max Powers says:

    with out the astro dome there will be noting more to houston they took away astroworld whats next

  26. […] about the previous attempt to do a hotel/convention center deal.The genesis of that goes back to 2003, with the idea of a convention center/hotel first appearing in 2004. They actually got […]