Comment of the Day: What the Fate of the Astrodome Says About Houston

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHAT THE FATE OF THE ASTRODOME SAYS ABOUT HOUSTON “This whole Dome debate is more than a just a property tax issue that people want to paint it as. If you really distilled it down to a single point, well then I guess it is. However, it incorporates debates on size of government, government accountability / effectiveness, a city identity crisis, preservation, nostalgia, optimism vs pessimism, and cronyism. One could actually make the argument that in this one issue, we’re trying to figure out what it is to be a ‘Houstonian,’ what the future of Houston is going to be, and if it’s worth saving our past. This has been so fascinating to me because of all these issues are being hashed out whether consciously or unconsciously. This whole saga is definitely worth writing a book over. I guess we get to decide how that book ends (or continues?) in November.” [DNAguy111, commenting on Commissioners Decide To Let Voters Decide on Convention Center Plan]

26 Comment

  • Not sure I’d purchase a book on this sad affair, however it does say a lot about the past and future of Houston–what’s unfortunate is that so many voting on this issue will be non native Houstonians with zero tie to the Astrodome and will just see it as some big eyesore and will look at the issue based on money, they won’t care about its meaning to native Houstonians like me, its importance as an Engineering marvel or its deserved Landmark status–it will only be–I dunt won’t anybirdy rasin my tayxes-this is Amurica!–if it were up to these idiots we’d have holes in the highways no public libraries, no public schools, no convention centers, sports stadiums, public universities, no upgrading to anything –they’ll vote for nothing that will raise their Tayxis one cent–thankfully most if these tea Baggers have moved to Brazoria and Montgomery county to git at of thet cesspool of Houstun–

  • Wow Shannon.. hate much ?

    I’ve lived in H-town my whole life and seen many an Astros game/tractor pull/thrill show back in the 70’s-80’s..

  • I’m all for historic preservation, but honestly, no one over the age of 50 would come visit Houston from out of town to go see the Astrodome. It is important locally, but not much to people not from Houston. Yes, I know it was the world’s first domed, air conditioned sports stadium, but the number of architecture geeks that still thinks that is cool would maybe fill up one 747.
    As a meeting/convention/activity center, it suffers from a lack of hotel/motel/restaurant/bar infrastructure nearby. The GRB has all that and more every year.

  • (grr.. enter key gone wild)

    + I’m all for coming up with a viable plan to keep the dome, but this isn’t it and this isn’t the way to do it. This isn’t the Rome Colosseum, this isn’t the Egyptian Pyramids.. This is a rusting stadium, falling apart from neglect and will require more and more tax money. Isn’t the progressive mantra to say “we could spend that money housing a poor child, or feeding a poor family”? Wouldn’t this money be better spent somewhere else ?

    The city is broke. The county is broke. Squeezing more tax dollars isn’t going to make it less broke and especially to spend new money on renovating a useless building into something nobody will ever use. Will we get additional conferences ? Is the GRB so overbooked that we don’t have enough space there for all the conferences we’d like to host ?

    I hope this fails spectacularly and they will have no other choice to tear it down. We’ll always have the memories and the pictures.. but it is useless and expensive. Cut it off now before it becomes a deeper money pit than it already is.

  • If the city is broke, it’s due to complete mismanagement. This is the single most economically successful large city in America right now. It shouldn’t be broke. And if somehow it is, maybe it should stop handing out money to companies like Chevron to build a tower downtown that it was already going to build there anyway. For people who don’t like their taxes raised for others’ gain, it’s amazing how much corporate welfare Houston hands out while streets crumble and schools languish.

  • If Houston can’t be bothered to save an 90-year-old classic bungalow, I doubt they can be bothered to save an ugly ass cow barn/money pit like the Astrodome.

  • If Houston can’t be bothered to save a 90-year-old classic bungalow, I doubt they can be bothered to save an ugly ass cow barn/money pit like the Astrodome.

  • A vote to keep the Astrodome will be a big middle finger to the rest of the US.

    While everyone is paying record high prices for gas, that extra money has wound up in Houston to pay for all the extra people and resources needed to go scrape up the last bits of oil left in the world. We’re taking some of that money to maintain a monument to ourselves for that one moment in history when we believe Houston was cutting-edge and made a real contribution to the world. In reality, it’s just another shell of a cheap concrete building that was designed around the belief that we’ll have eternal access to cheap energy.

  • I’ll vote no, not because I don’t a soft spot in my heart for the Dome, but because I’m so tired of money being spent this way, for the benefit of the corporations who will work on it, rather than what is really best for the city and county residents. If we had our roads, schools, parks and health care in top-top shape, and THEN we wanted to refurb the Dome..then OK. But otherwise it doesn’t make financial or civic sense.

  • Houston and Harris County is far from broke–Bill, let’s just let the voters deside, ok–we’ll cancel each others vote–fine

  • I’m with Shannon………She’s our “anti-commonsense”!

  • Lol, I’m a gay—guy

  • The Astrodome is a landmark in Houston, but a crumbling mess, comparable to the Silverdome in Pontiac, MI. Tear it down and start over. It’s hideous. Hard to believe the only stadium more ugly is the former Montreal Expos ballpark that resembled a TV production set of Deep Space Nine. I would happily spend money to see it leveled.

  • Just because someone has lived here a year, doesn’t mean their opinion is worth any less than valid than a ‘native’ Houstonian. This assertion is just as ridiculous as the commentators on the Chron saying that the vote should be limited to property owners. Lest us not forget that we all end up paying for the increase in property taxes through either higher rents or the actual increased tax rate.
    A non-native Houstonian could actually be more ‘Houston’ than a person who grew up here. Think about it. The population increase in the area is due in large part to non-Anglo increases in population. That and transplants from other countries & parts of the US are really driving the demographic changes.
    What Houston was is not what it will be. Our city identity is more dynamic/fluid than possibly any other location in the country. I mean, what does Houston represent? NY, Chicago, LA all have an ‘identity’. Hell, Dallas has a national identity. ‘Big D’ is a thing. While big hair and Cadillacs aren’t as common anymore, there’s no arguing that Dallas is a ritzier leaning, Southern metropolis that’s service oriented (as opposed to a manufacturing town). Houston, although being over 175 years old, doesn’t really have one. The whole ‘energy capital of the world’ isn’t really an identity. We don’t have a ‘Big Apple’ or ‘Windy City’-like moniker. ‘H-town’ only really works in regards to hip hop. ‘Clutch City’ refers to a brief period in the 90’s. We’re blue collar on the ship channel and white collared downtown. We are immigrants and rednecks. We are a medical capital with the largest population of un-insured. I mean, we have a rodeo and Pit Bull is a headliner.
    Like I said in the original comment. The dome kind of taps into all of this. That’s why I find it a great debate. It holds no true moral component (like a death penalty, abortion, or marriage equality debate), so I think there’s no ‘right’ answer here.

  • the astrodome is a landmark in as much as third and fifth ward are. give me a break, if the dome is so representative of houston then this really is a sad little town.

  • I agree with the comment that said the Dome’s disadvantage is its location. Of all the architecture that could have been saved in this city over the years, few buildings are as poorly situated for preservation than the Dome. Saving this thing really requires setting aside all common sense in favor of a sentimental attachment to Houston’s past. Not that I don’t recognize the power of that sentiment. I’ve supported tearing it down, but then I haven’t had any role to play in how it turns out. Now that I get to vote on it, I’m not positive I’ll be able to pull the trigger.

  • So our options are:

    a.) Issue $200mm of public debt so Ed Emmett’s crooked buddies can convert the Astrodome into a convention center, while we already have an underutilized convention center a couple miles away.

    b.) Knock down the Astrodome so that Ed Emmett’s crooked buddies can pave 2500 pay parking spots and get paid.

    F(*& this corruption. The people need to have a clear menu of options, and need to vote after they have been fully outlined and the implications explained. The Mayor or someone needs to step up and make a serious public initiative out of this.

  • Houstorian, is anyone working on making the Astrodome a protected landmark, in the event that the ballot fails, it seems fairly clear that Overlord Ed Emmitt is designing to demo.

  • DNAguy, you make some very valid comments. I think if anything, the Astrodome represents a snapshot of Houston in the 1960’s, when the future looked very bright. Remember, this was the first city in the South to pass the million person mark. Houston back then was looking to put it’s mark on the national stage, and the Astrodome was a way of calling attention to itself. I agree the Houston today doesn’t have an easy identity to people from outside our town. Probably the most common comment I get when travelling is something to do with out heat and humidity.

  • Characterizing renovating the Dome as a county judge led boondoggle is actually a salute to its history. Roy Hofheinz, owner of the Colt 45s/Astros at the time, was also the county judge then. If it wasn’t the first publicly built arena for a professional sports team in the US, it was certainly one of the first. And Hofheinz had an apartment behind the right field scoreboard, tarted up in full gold lame and red flocked ’60s neo bordello glory.

  • Folks – the city isn’t broke. The county isn’t broke. And if you are convinced that this is all being done by crooked politicians and the corporations who control them, why don’t you name the corporations you have in mind? Share the info, we’d love to hear it.

    Otherwise, stop regurgitating all the talk radio cliches and say something factual.

  • When I look at the dome is see my grandfather taking me to Astro and Oiler games–I think rainbow jerseys and luv ya blue–I think the rodeo and the the huge bar on the club level and my friend Jeff and I trapsing all over the dome-sneaking into the clubhouse to get Nolan Ryan’s autograph–so you see Ms Porter to me this building is as beautiful as Versailles( and I’ve trapsed all over that pile too)

  • Not being a native Houstonian (though I have lived here 25 years), I am not all caught up in the nostalgia for the Astrodome. While I can appreciate its merits and design and I can recognize the 8th wonder of the world status, its time has come and gone. For whatever reason, benign neglect or sinister sabotage, the Dome was allowed to deteriorate and it really serves no purpose other than a reminder of a heady time in Houston’s history.
    Reasons to spend millions to renovate? I’m heavily leaning towards the No vote. We already have a tax payer funded Convention Center and a taxpayer funded Convention Center Hotel–why bastardize those? It is a sports arena for crying out loud not Old Jerusalem.

  • The cost of demoing the dome would exceed the cost of keeping it vacant for decades. So what is wrong with keeping it vacant and just paying out indefinitely. Honestly we just have to pay enough to keep it from getting trashed.

    Lets just keep it as a ruin, saying the Astrodome is not the Colosseum is like saying the Roman Colosseum was not the Colloseum in the third century. If it wasn’t technically a church and the site of some of the key martyrdoms of the early church it would probably not have survived today.

  • please do not shut down the astrodome im am going to rebuild it and make it bigger and better it is my dream to accomplish and I want to do it before I die I need it to stay up til 2035 and I will build it into a better field than the reliant and we are not going to throw away our history so just wait and it will be done