Brave Explorers Enter Houston’s Forbidden Sports Tomb

Houston’s 13th annual “What Shall We Do with the Astrodome?” media season kicked off yesterday with a tour of the shuttered facility open to local reporters and photographers willing to sweat a little in the no-longer-air-conditioned space, sign a release, and hold their noses. What was that offending scent? Teevee news reporters politely referred to it in their reports as “mildew” or a “musty” odor, but Swamplot photographer Candace Garcia calls it as she sniffed it: “The smell of mold was overwhelming,” she reports.


Could that smell be coming from microscopic critters hiding in the football-field Astroturf left by the building’s caretakers to soak in an 8-ft.-deep flooded trough for an entire year, but only rescued and strewn out to dry on the stadium floor in the last few weeks? (“They say it will be OK once it dries out,” Reliant Park general manager Mark Miller reassures Chron reporter David Barron.) Possibly, but air vents and moldy splotches visible on a few doorways are other possible culprits.

Photos: Karen Dressel (fifth, eighth, and ninth images), Candace Garcia (all others)

5 Comment

  • These pictures make me sad. I wouldn’t mind owning that piece of AstroTurf with Astrodome written on it though.

  • This should have been the Harris County Operations Center. It could have consolidated a ton of office space all over the city.

  • I wonder if the bond investors know the condition of their collateral. My mortgage company requires that I keep my house in good condition.

  • Collateral? What a joke, it’s basically useless so if the collateral was retained by the investors, they would probably lose money.

  • A few years ago, the Reliant staff put out a bid for proposals. I was the person who suggested renovating the dome into a mall/hotel/waterpark/convention center/theater/concert venue. My bid price was in line with current standards. My plan was a good one. I was one of seven people in the world to submit an actual plan for redevelopment.
    After that the “Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation” was formed. Their plans were a mystery until recently. “Their” plan was amazingly the exact same as my copyrighted plan, which they did not know was copyrighted. Since then one of the principals, Michael Surface, has been indicted on felony charges for bribery and other crimes. The “ARC” has stopped their attempt to use the plan, even though they had just received permission from the Rodeo and Reliant, and approved their plan for an exit from the highway straight to the Dome. Their attempt to pilfer my plan has still gone unnoticed. Notice how quiet it has been around this issue. My plan is still the only idea that makes any sense.
    Think about it, between the events at Reliant Stadium, the Rodeo, and the draw from having an indoor water park, this building could remain busy all year round. It would bring income and jobs to the area. It would generate sales tax and realty value and taxes for the city.
    Sure, it is a large undertaking. Until recently, the Reliant staff has hidden the fact that public funding was available for the renovation. This was disclosed by Michael Surface, the same man now indicted. See the article concerning the corruption here:
    If you want the Astrodome to shine again, voice your opinion.

    I believe that the people of Houston have the right to know what is going on. The positions filled at the Reliant Stadium offices are county positions. The people who fill these seats were not ignorant to the origin of these plans, nor were they ignorant to the fact that the “Astrodome Redevelopment Corporation” was formed long after “their” plans were submitted by another individual. Who was in charge of this? Who allowed another corporation to be formed and use another individuals plans? Why was the individual who originally had the plans not asked for his help moving forward? Who stood to make a profit from this? Why was the originator of the plan not compensated for the county’s use of the plan? Who all has turned a blind eye, or seemingly so, in this matter? This business reeks of unethical treatment. The people who are responsible for the fraudulent misrepresentation of fact should be held responsible. Remove the offending parties, replace them with innocent and ethical parties. Only then can this project, or any project at the Astrodome, move forward.