Save Our Dome:
It sits rotting in the Houston heat in the shadow of the palace that replaced it. What once was an architectural marvel; the Eighth Wonder of the World is falling apart, outdated, and is in desperate need of a plan to save it. The Oilers and Astros threatened to move if a new stadium(s) wasn't built because of the poor shape of the Dome back in 1995 (of course the Oilers went through with it), so the condition isn't a shocking, new problem. The Dome has been scarcely used since the Astros last game there on October 9th, 1999; the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo used it until 2002.
The Dome didn't officially close for good until 2008 when it was condemned for numerous code violations, but it's been sitting vacant without any plans for renovation for over a decade. The once proud landmark has become a glorified storage shed for the rodeo; a depressing reality for the generations of Houstonians who grew up going to the Dome.
Minute Maid Park and Reliant Stadium are amazing venues, but the memories I have from the Dome can never be replaced. I saw the Oilers destroy the Buffalo Bills 27-3 on the last game of the season of 1992 (their game the following week wouldn't go as well). I remember my father getting tickets from work and taking us to see the Astros play the Cubs on the final day of the McGwire/Sosa home run chase in 1998. Even after the Astros and Oilers were long gone, I remember seeing ZZ Top play at the rodeo in 2002. The Astrodome is more than just a building, it's a piece of history and it holds a special place in my heart. When the Toyota Center is outdated and replaced, blow it up, I won't care; but the Dome is different. Seeing the Dome wither and die feels like watching your childhood dog grow old, go blind, and eventually have to be put down.
Hopefully someone with a vision and the money to execute that vision steps forward to save our Dome, but it won't be easy. The concrete is crumbling, asbestos will need to be removed, and the debris including reportedly dead birds and rats will need to be cleaned up; the job will be hard and expensive, but I believe it can be done. The 43-year-old Dome stood the test of Hurricane Ike in 2008, losing only 1 tile from the roof (while Reliant Stadium lost several roof panels); the outer structure seems stable enough to be used in a re-formatted Dome. I believe the best idea, and it would take a change in the law, is to gut and hollow out the inside of the Dome, keep the outer shell, and turn it into a casino/hotel. Outside of that, maybe some sort of multi-purpose entertainment facility with a movie theater, comedy club, concert venue, shops, etc, like an indoor Marque Center. Other ideas like a museum to the city's history, or some sort of technology center that could include involvement with NASA would also be great.
Whatever they do, the Dome is worth saving. It means too much to the city to tear it up and throw it away.
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That new Miami baseball stadium looks bad a**. Can't wait till June to see what it looks like with 5,000 fans.
Opening day used to be magic. Maybe it's because I was a kid. But what is it now? A disjointed mess? Japan? Night games? What are we doing?