Comment of the Day: The Symbol of the City

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE SYMBOL OF THE CITY “I understand that many people in Houston and Harris County have fond childhood memories of attending games in the Astrodome with their families. I too have memories of watching Astros games there, and frankly, I liked the ‘Dome better than Minute Maid Park. That said, no one from out of town EVER has asked me about the Astodome when I tell them I am from Houston. Not a single visitor that I’ve hosted here has EVER asked me to drive them by the Astrodome. The nation, and the world, just aren’t all that interested in a 40+ year old sports venue.” [ShadyHeightster, commenting on It’s Like a Billboard. On Wheels. For the Astrodome.] Illustration: Lulu

43 Comment

  • One of the few times I agree with Shadyheightster.

  • It isn’t about it being a topic of conversation. It is a globally recognized monument! It may not be on the same scale as the Colosseum, however everyone knows that the Astrodome is a Houston Icon…Preserve It!

  • I don’t really see saving the Dome as a preservation issue. I see it more as an existing asset that needs attention and new purpose. Originally I was in favor of tearing down the structure, but this facility fits the demand for bigger and better exhibit and convention space. Yes the Reliant center is next door but I don’t believe this facility is adequate for attracting or serving large events.

  • Recently on a visit to Montreal I went to see this:

    The difference from the Astrodome is the Montreal dome is unique. People want to see unique landmarks.

    The Astrodome isn’t unique, there are numerous generic dome stadiums around everywhere. Short of gilding the entire building, it will not become a tourist attraction.

  • I think this is a good point. Maybe even swayed my vote.

  • I agree with that completely.
    I’m all for restoration and repurposing, but not one viable, profitable solution or use has ever been floated. Sure the county wants to sink another gazillion dollars into it, but I don’t see that many mega events coming to town, I mean there’s only one tractor pull a year, and that’s not a part of town that tourists hang in.
    There’s one convention every year that comes to town that would fill the space and that’s the OTC. But thats a lot of money for two events a year. If it could be used year round and was a viable needed space I’d say do it but since they can’t even come up with what it would really be used for its like paying for a pig in a poke.

  • People would be much more inclined to want to see and visit it if we, as a city, treated it like the culturally significant building it is.

  • Speaking as someone from elsewhere on the globe I can state pretty confidently that the Astrodome is NOT a globally recognised monument. I managed to get through 30 years in a different first world country without knowing that it even existed.

  • The argument for saving the Astrodome as a local heritage site is somewhat difficult for me to get my head around. If we were to do that, we’d restore it to its original 70’s or 80’s grandure – and keep it as a time-capsule and do tours. But that’s not what appears to be the case: in fact, we want a money generating venue that looks like the Dome on the exterior. If this is the case, and the city/county think it can survive this way, why not move the Astrodome into a corporation that must survive on its own revenues? Let’s have this one-time bond issue be the seed money for any potential conversion and cease the tax revenue? If the Astrodome can be self-sufficient then great, if not, we could sell to the highest bidder and stop forever the next round of save-the-Dome property tax increases.

  • This simply isn’t true. Just recently in Dallas I saw the local news do a special report on the future of Astrodome, showing historical footage, the new renderings, etc. The NY Times has covered the developments this year. Columbia University did a special project on the Dome a couple years back and maintains a website with photos and history. Another university in Southern California (CalTech?) tried to submit a proposal for it last May.

    The question isn’t, Do outsiders care about the Astrodome? The question is rather, Is there anything in Houston besides the Astrodome and NASA that outsiders care about, or think of when they think of Houston?

  • I just had an epiphany. Perhaps we could get the producers of under the Dome to produce a sequel to that show, featuring a gangs of cats that are trapped in the dome and because of the asbestos issues no one can get in to save the felines. There’s a rabid group of zombie rats that are attacking the cats but apparently while the rats have been eating the asbestos to stay alive they have developed a strain of vampire rats and they’re trying to get a vial of true blood to save them. What will happen to the cats, the rats, and the dome. Stay tuned for the series finale of “Cats under the Dome”, November 5th, at a polling place near you. A Harris County Production.

  • As far as being a globally recognized monument, I would bet that if you showed a picture of the Astrodome to people not from Houston (and esp not from the United States), the vast majority might guess it was a sporting venue, but would not know it as the “Astrodome” in Houston, TX. It’s just not that important or memorable. Some of us from Houston love it because of local marketing and/or memories, but bottom line it just doesn’t add any value to Houston or it’s image. Sad but true, regardless of how I might feel about it personally.


    Flavius, why don’t we tear down that pesky coliseum, asks Maximus. Gladiators are so 500 years ago and the place is falling apart. I could use a block of marble for my living room, too.

    Maximus, my dear boy, Flavius responds, it is a monument; a world-class monument. We musn’t be so quick to destroy things. Think of all the tourist dollars and cool gladiator movies that will be spawned thousands of years from now if we don’t tear it down. Let history remember it.

    But Maximus, nobody ever wants to see it–nobody. Whenever Petrona and Octavius are with me they only want to speed past in our chariot. They couldn’t care less.

    Flavius, I think the Visigoths are coming to dinner. They just want to be friends. Lets talk after we’ve let their hoard into Rome. But I’ll say again, let’s keep it, just let it go to hell. People we don’t know, who care about things we can’t begin to comprehend, are sure to look past our short-term views of the coliseum. Let’s give history a chance to flourish.

  • Thank you, heightsguy. I could add Notre Dame in Paris, which they almost tore down in the early 1800’s because nobody saw the use of it anymore, until Victor Hugo wrote his novel. Or Penn Station in New York, which actually was torn down. Because duh, we’re living in the jet age now, nobody wants a crumbling old train station!

    Back in the 1970’s-80’s, Houston tore down all three of its grand 1920’s downtown movie palaces. The reason? Nobody goes to movie palaces anymore! We have suburban multiplexes now! And now, thirty years later, movie palaces are huge landmarks wherever they still exist. Smart move, guys. Visionary.

    Oh but wait, this is different. All this is is the first ever domed stadium. The building that tripled the world record for longest unsupported roofspan. The only domed sports stadium that had an actual structure for its dome instead of just fabric. No, this will never seem interesting to anyone. Save your 8 bucks, folks. Maybe you can use the money to take a date to our grand old movie palace. Oh wait…

  • Mike, Sure there is. Its called The Texas Medical Center or the Menil Museum. Not “the eight wonder of the world”, which was just a slogan that P.T. Hoffheinz came up with to promote the place.

  • People do not want to save the Astrodome because it is a landmark of National/Worldwide significance. People want to save the Astrodome because it is just about all we have in Houston in terms of somewhat significant landmarks. Blowing up the Astrodome is a concession that we never do anything of any lasting significance in Houston. We are just a very fancy tent city set up to house the oil industry as long as they need us. But, once Elon Musk has us zipping around in pneumatic tubes instead of internal combustion engine vehicles, Houston will just empty out and be forgotten. Keeping the Astrodome is an attempt to make Houston feel permanent and not a temporary boomtosn precariously tied to the fate of one sector of the economy.

  • Do you really believe people in Ghana know the difference between the Astrodome and the Superdome? Let’s get realistic about the global significance of an old concrete football stadium. I think the comparison to Forbes Field is more apt than the comparison to the Colosseum.

    Q: Where’s Forbes Field????
    A: EXACTLY. And in a few more years the Astrodome will be just as forgotten.

  • “The difference from the Astrodome is the Montreal dome is unique. People want to see unique landmarks.

    The Astrodome isn’t unique, there are numerous generic dome stadiums around everywhere.”

    I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t see your argument at all. The Montreal stadium has a blue kevlar roof. It is opaque and boring. The Astrodome has an actual structure for its roof, with thousands of skylights in it. No other dome is like this. Added to that, it was the FIRST domed stadium. It tripled the world record for longest unsupported roof span.

    Link on here a picture of another domed stadium roof that can rival this one:*368/astrodome-1996.jpg

  • I grew up in Montreal while the “Big Owe” was being built and enjoyed visiting the actual construction site often as it evolved.

    I attended Olympic events in it as well as hundreds of baseball, football and soccer games and many concerts. I have even paid to go on tours of it. It would not bother me an iota if it were to be torn down. It should be since it serves no purpose now but to gobble up tax dollars.

    I now live in Houston but visited many times before moving here. Even as a huge sports fan the Astrodome was never on my radar or that of any friends when we visited or who come to visit me in Houston. It is a non entity, not a cultural icon. It was basically built with a single purpose in mind, served that purpose and now should go. Preserving it, with tax payers’ dollars, would be throwing good money after bad.

  • Aero (#4): agree the Montreal Stadium is unique, it’s even gorgeous. I share what residents paid for that monstrosity, however. In 1976 it was built for the Olympics, vastly over budget and after the Olympics a 20-year tax bill was tossed on top of everyone’s property tax bill to pay for it. But they didn’t stop at 20 years, they just kept forcing people to pay the tax. Was it useful for sporting events? The Montreal Expos went from Jarry Park to the stadium, it was hopeless for baseball. Additionally, its twin sister stadium in France has chunks of concrete falling, something that too happened to this stadium. I love the look of our Astrodome, but to surrender a chunk of my property taxes my lifetime to keep it alive for conventioneers and private interests will irk me every year I send in my check. Reference article on the Montreal Big Owe:

  • so. Astrodome…and there are many similar domes/sports venues, right?
    Eiffel Tower? only one.
    Notre Dame?….functional…and stunning I might add….
    Colloseum? Pretty sure just one there.
    that’s like saying keep my iphone 1…and everybody chip in to keep it running…because it was the first, and there is nothing else like it…waaaiittt…..? Really? let the dome go. and by the way, nobody calls it a monument except for the people trying to save it.

  • Why are all the Comments of the Day negative in relation to the Astrodome, let’s have some balance Swamplot and enough already on this absurd arguement of the future of the Astrodome, it will all be decided at the polls, it’s obvious the Anti dome crowd will not be swayed, no matter the history you explain and preservation examples in other cities, it all matters not, all they care about is there property Tax’s etc, they would have voted against the dome in the sixties, they belong to the party of no and I’m tired of the arguement, ill vote on Election Day and let the chips fall where they may.

  • There’s only one FIRST DOMED STADIUM EVER BUILT. Maybe that isn’t as important to some. But it’s one of Houston’s few undisputed claims to fame. Bulldozing the Astrodome only makes Houston less interesting and more ordinary – no doubt much like the lives of the anti-dome crowd.

  • They tore down Yankee stadium folks, a place with 1,000x the history, mystique and staying-power than the Astrodome ever had. The dome is a derelict, outdated facility that can no longer serve its designed purpose of hosting sporting events. That it stands today is a tribute to the feud between the COH and Bud Adams, which, you may recall, was over spending public funds on a football stadium. Flash forward to today, where we are now arguing about spending public funds to memorialize a 30-year old argument about spending public funds on a new stadium.

  • Did anyone stop to think that maybe Shady has some stupid, unworldly friends? There are people in this world who have never heard the music of Mozart or seen a painting by Picasso. That doesn’t mean that the work of Mozart and Picasso doesn’t hold value, entertain and inspire people.

    What a pitiful “comment of the day”. If they bulldozed everything in the world that Shady’s friends never heard of – there probably wouldn’t be much to see.

  • Miss the Astrodome? Hell, I still miss Colt .45 Stadium. Because, BASEBALL IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY!!!

  • Does anyone else think that Private Idaho is the fourth persona of one of the most strident posters on this board? It’s a sports arena for God sakes–not a World Heritage site. And as for an earlier comparison (on one of the several posts about the Dome) to the Roman Coliseum, its hard to get behind something surrounded by asphalt and ugliness in every direction on the Reliant Park lot.

  • JB3 – Yankee stadium had 1,000 times the history of the Astrodome? Then why did the NY Times call the Astrodome the most influential stadium ever built in America in an article last May?

    Just a few minutes ago my wife told me she heard a story about the Dome on NPR this morning. Now why would so many national media outlets be covering this if no one outside Houston cares?

  • What difference does it make if your friends from other cities don’t ask to see the Astrodome, this is about Houston and a building that’s iconic to the cities past, it really makes no difference if some friend of yours from Phuket wants to see the dome or not.

  • 217 million dollars to revamp this structure with limited/minimal historical value? It is likely that this may turnout to be a public funded subisidy for a few folk’s money making ventures.

    Surely the public’s funds can be better used for more widely accesible projcects, e.g parks, schools, infrastructure, public transit, public fountains, etc.

  • It lets Houston off the hook too easily. If this place wants to be known for architectural wonders then it is going to have to build some new ones. Forget the Dome, it is exactly what it is, a complex. Time for a new version of the future.

  • show of hands folks, does anyone under the age of 50 seriously care about this outdated behemoth of concrete?

    we’re about to build an amazing park space that many cities could only dream of for less than the cost of refurbishing this dome.

    what’s vastly more important than saving the dome is understanding what amazing resources could be added to our city for the same cost.

  • I’d argue that for most visitors, the Astrodome is just a tiny blip of trivia, not even worth driving by (Heck, I’d argue that even for most Houstonians, it’s merely a point of trivia.) The Astrodome may have a quirky history, but it doesn’t occupy a central, monumental place in the collective memory of the city in the way that Grand Central Station or the Eiffel Tower do in NY or Paris. It’s too peripheral, not exceptional enough as a piece of architecture. On that note: what is Houston’s equivalent of the Eiffel Tower or Grand Central? Do we have one? Do we need one?

  • It can be the Symbol of the City, and it can be torn down. This is Houston, where those two ideas are not opposed to one another.

  • AMEN,Quantum!

  • I’d just like to state that Minute Maid Park is a thousand times better than the Astrodome for baseball. The Dome was an innovation to be marveled, but both Reliant and Minute Maid are far better experiences overall.

  • If you really want to improve Houston with 217 million, annex Aldine and spruce it up. It’s what everybody sees as they enter the city from IAH, and it looks like crap. It might help to merge it with a Greenspoint TIRZ too.

  • “The Astrodome may have a quirky history, but it doesn’t occupy a central, monumental place in the collective memory of the city in the way that Grand Central Station or the Eiffel Tower do in NY or Paris.”

    And at one time, both Grand Central and the Eiffel Tower were proposed to be torn down. What you folks don’t understand is that great buildings go through phases, including the phase where nobody understands why they’re important. To become recognized landmarks they have to be preserved, spruced up, promoted, and treated as such. Any building left to decay for ten years is not going to seem like a landmark on par with the restored Grand Central. It takes vision – hopefully Houston can find this for once.

  • You know why Houston isn’t on par with other large cities? Because we are filled with people that assume our history, culture and amenities will never equal those of NY, Chicago, SF and therefore aren’t worth trying to save what makes us unique. Thankfully we are starting to see a change – we now have Houstonians that believe in embracing what’s uniquely Houston. Even if those thing dont look quite like other cities.

  • CD,

    And what is uniquely Houston is progress and not dwelling on the past…

  • kjb434, there was a time in Houston’s history when progress was embodied by things like the ship channel and the astrodome. What counts as progress today? Parking lots an strip malls?

  • Progress in Houston has developed an affordable and high quality of life for many. The economic ease of surviving in this city creates more opportunity yielding a high net inflow of new residents.

    Speaking of strip malls and parking lots…Houston does not have a greater number of these than any other large city and its suburbs.

  • Does anyone know if there is a clause in the proposal that the tax will end at a given date or dollar amount or do we get taxed forever?