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Latest Addition To Endangered Places List: Houston’s Astrodome

Jun 25, 13 Latest Addition To Endangered Places List: Houston’s Astrodome

The 8th wonder of the world is facing demise. There are a handful of fanciful ideas for how it can be used, but until one is finalized, there are many people who’d like to see it torn down. One national preservation group is trying to keep that from happening, though.

Reliant Astrodome, more affectionately known as simply the Astrodome, was a maverick in its time.  It was the world’s first ever multi-purposed, indoor, air-conditioned sports stadium which hosted tons of events from the world famous Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to baseball games, football games, car shows, and the list goes on.

The Astrodome was built in 1962, and at the time it was a pretty big deal. Since then, though, it has been the victim of a rash of uncertainty.

According to The Courier of Montgomery County, “The stadium has been vacant since 2009, when it was deemed unfit for occupancy. It hasn’t been home to a sports team since the Houston Astros moved to their new downtown baseball stadium in 2000.”

It was closed to the NFL in December of 1996 when the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and were renamed the Titans.  Following that, it was closed to the MLB in October of 1999 when the Astros moved to their new home, then, Enron Park, which was sold and renamed Minute Maid Park after Enron’s public crash. Then, in 2003 the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo moved to Reliant Stadium, which left the nostalgic dome vacant.

While it’s been progressively neglected more and more for the last 15+ years, there has been quite a debate bubbling in Houston on what to do with the dome. This debate has reached its boiling point recently.

On one side of the fence, it’s costing Houston taxpayers an estimated $228.00 USD per hour to maintain. And it’s empty. There’s a little confusion on where the quote actually came from, KRIV FOX or CBS, but nonetheless, ESPN quoted a local news station saying, “imploding the Astrodome and replacing the structure with a parking lot would cost $29,061,827 USD. That’s just $6 or $7 million USD less than it cost to build America’s first domed stadium, which opened in 1965.”

On the other side, though, there are many Houstonians crying that it simply can’t be torn down. It’s just too iconic to Houston. For those of us on this side of the fence, there are several lofty ideas for its use such as a luxury hotel, a movie studio, a revamped venue for concerts and sporting events, tradeshows, conferences, graduations and the list goes on and on again. This plan would cost somewhere in the ballpark of  $194 million USD.

While parking lots are pretty cool and all, I just don’t think we can tear down the Astrodome! “It’s where Elvin Bethea chased down pass-rushers, where Earl Campbell ran people over, where Bum Phillips roamed the sidelines where current Titans coach Mike Munchak played his entire career.”

Thankfully, there are some folks on my side! According to The Houston Chronicle, “Just hours before the fate of the Astrodome is decided in front of the assembled Houston media, the National Trust For Historic Preservation has thrown it on a list of the 11 most endangered historic places in America.”

Now the Astrodome is officially an endangered historic place. Hopefully that’ll be enough to stall the wrecking ball and get a viable plan for repurposing our beloved dome.

Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

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