Take Home Your Own Pieces of the Astrodome This Weekend — and Maybe Vote To Preserve the Thing, Too

What better way to rally voters in support of saving the Astrodome than a weekend-before-election-day sell-off of parts ripped from its vast interior? Will the resulting media attention to Dome history and the possible scrap value of its salvaged furnishings encourage voters to support the bond issue on the ballot that’ll preserve but reinvent Houston’s landmark venue? Or will focusing on the Dome’s already-in-progress dismantling and the junkyard-lot atmosphere (Get a piece of it while you can!) of this weekend’s all-day bleacher and AstroTurf yard sale have an opposite effect, allowing fencesitters an opportunity for clarity and closure — or even helping preservationists come to terms with the building’s possible demise?


This coming Saturday’s Astrodome estate sale and auction was approved by the same group that originated the Save the Dome plan: the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation. If there’s some sort of compressed timeline that requires it to take place in the middle of early voting, it isn’t apparent: After Reliant Park crews sell off all 500 of the upper-deck chair-pairs earmarked for the event (for $200 each; only 4 pairs per person, please), they’ll still have about 59,000 more seats to get rid of at a later date.

For now, though, workers have gotten busy unscrewing turnstiles, football and dugout benches, on-deck circles, and other major league hardware from the Dome — and hauling them over to safe-for-visitors Reliant Center for the sale or auction, along with a few didn’t-know-we-still-had-these items, such as early grounds-crew space helmets. They’re also chopping up the AstroTurf (baseball version only; the football one was already too trashed already) into 12-in.-by-12-in. squares ($20 each; limit 4) — too small for a doormat.

Photo: Candace Garcia

25 Comment

  • It’s a brilliant plan, instead of paying to throw garbage away, get lunatics to pay money for garbage and haul it away for you.

  • both Jimmy Wynn and Dour Rader hit home runs into that upper deck

  • I don’t think commonsense could have captured Houston’s attitude any more succinctly. In Houston, history = garbage and preservationists = lunatics.
    I guess the vote will show us whether that opinion is really a majority view or the cries of a vocal minority.
    At this point, it seems like a toss-up, unless of course they get the same people who wrote the misleading language around the last ballot’s mobility payment proposition description.

  • I don’t see how wanting an old seat that maybe creates fond memories makes you a “lunatic”, maybe it makes you human with the ability to have sentimentality..gee that’s thought. As for this selling off of Dome seats, it’s simply brilliant, it will solidify the already strong majority that wants to save the Astrodome, in addition it will make tons of money for the county. I remember the frenzy when they sold the seats in Texas Stadium and it didn’t have a tenth of the history of the Astrodome…and yeah, I’ll be one of the “lunatics” who buys a seat and remembers Luv Ya Blue on my Dad’s knee, cheering for The Tyler Rose.

  • Speaking personally I think my hesitation to support the bond initiative is grounded more in a profound distrust of the County’s ability to repurpose the dome successfully. How are we supposed to believe that the same people who have successfully milked tens of millions out of us during this protracted decision making process are going to do anything other than line their own pockets during the repurposing. I forecast spending overruns, lots of corruption and a second rate result.

  • I’m with Jimbo. Unless there is some sure fire way to generate revenue with the thing (like a lease), all preserving it will do, apart from stir wistful memories from a half mile away, is give annuity business to grafters in the county/city bureaucracy that insist on the need for hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Sentimentality is a forgivable emotion, but don’t think for a second that every time such thoughts are put to the ballot that there are not a thousand hucksters just waiting to see how fast they can fill their bank accounts.

    Preserving something economically useless but interesting with someone else’s money is hardly a noble undertaking.

  • I think Jimbo has made the most convincing case yet for demolition. And I’m generally for preservation.

  • This boondongle has backroom deals and corruption written all over it. While I thought their idea was dumb, I don’t understand why Astrodome Redevelopment’s idea couldn’t have been partially financed by bonds if that’s what they are asking us to do now. From what I read, Astrodome Redevelopment couldn’t get the project financed (I think for good reasons), but they may have had more of a chance if the county had to pony up half the costs.
    We have a convention center now that is hardly used and has plenty of hotels around it (more being built too). Ed Emmit calls this the “Gateway to Reliant”, gateway to what exactly? Everyone who enters Reliant park will have to go through the dome? It’s just dumb and I didn’t vote for it.

  • @Jimbo and @nate99, finally others with a logical view of the situation, glad to know I’m not alone.

  • I would support preservation too if there was even a remote possibility that the convention center wouldn’t be a preposterous boondoggle. Out of all the supporters I have heard, not one person has suggested that the convention center is good idea.

  • I have not analyzed in depth the bond proposal to save the dome. I have however once again witnessed the continual idiocy of one ironically named user commonsense.

    Personally I have a lot of childhood memories of the Astrodome, and think it is a huge piece of Houston history. I think it would be amazing to own a set of bleacher chairs in the old vintage Astro colors of the late 70’s and 80’s. I guess I too am one of the lunatics along with CREOLE.

  • Couldn’t agree more with Jimbo.

  • Almost everyone agrees with the graft/conspiracy theory, yet not one shred of evidence exists to support it. Just a lot of government paranoia produced by decades of talk radio brainwashing.

    If you can’t spare $8 to save history and a world engineering landmark, just say so. Don’t hide behind some theory that “them commissioner are makin’ themselves rich offa us” or similar tripe.

  • Don’t worry all the tea party, I won’t spend a penny for anything exept demolition of an abortion clinic, not in my backyard, no tax even to save a starving baby, are I the minority on this one. All this invented bullshit about graft..where! is your proof? I guess it’s in a capsule with Barak Obama’s Kenyan Birth Certificate.

  • I love the mix of opinions on Swamplot. As a carpet bagger Houstonian, I do to have the same sentimental feelings towards the dome as a Houston lifer might have. However, I can still strongly relate to wanting to save it.
    So I’m in favor of keeping it, just convince me there is a competent plan in place to do so. In this day and age, you don’t have to be a tea party / libertarian to have a distrust of the governments ability to manage a project, or to worry there might be some crony-capitalism going on. My guess is even those who proposed to want to blow up the dome would be willing to save it if they could be assured that a solid plan was in place

  • I’m not a talk radio listener, but I can tell you that over the years there has been plenty of crony-capitalism going on in Harris County Commissioner’s Court. Jon Lindsey and his friends bought up lots of empty land in far north Harris County in the early 90’s, then initiated road projects through those parcels, thus driving up their value. Jerry Eversole didn’t resign after 20+ years because he was tired, he was found to have exchanged favors with a developer friend. I would think that if the Astrodome renovation bonds pass, the work will go to those with connections to Harris County Commissioners.

  • Native here. I believe the conspiracy, if there is one, is that Mayors, County Judges, Commissioners, City Council members, etc. can be elected and reelected having never clearly spelled out a growth and development plan or for that matter mention a single project that is innovative. I was a tour guide at the Astrodome in my teens and I remember the “awe look” on EVERYONE’S face and back then (mid 90s) it needed work too. The Dome’s history is partially the events it held but more important I think, is its architecture. Sure we know the types of events that where in the Roman Coliseum (the dome’s muse) but it is the innovative architecture even after closure and damage by countless earthquakes that brings tourist back still. Most “architecture” wonders of the world are no longer “viable”, Acropolis, Pyramids, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu but it is the inspiring design that keeps them relevant. As far as “uses” for the dome…hmmm. Not long ago the Chronicle reported on how big cricket is becoming in the City, after doing some research I learned that there is only 1 certified international test ground in the U.S.. Hockey has left after 19 yrs and we are the largest market in N. America without a NHL team and a suitable facility. There was the X Games that we lost to AUSTIN, really? Of course there is a need for a festival ground to hold IFest, Bayou City Arts Fest, FotoFest, Children’s Festival, Art Car Show and Parade and others. All viable, all needed, instead we get a third convention center?
    we would be better off with a Landry’s Golden Nugget Casino. I’m voting to save the Dome, hoping a YES vote buys us sometime to get a legitimate proposal going. This proposition is not about the redevelopment plan, its about stopping the rodeo from allowing the tearing down of something else viable and needed (ASTROWORLD) for a parking lot. Houston we need innovation. Yes, I was one of the few who submitted a proposal. peace

  • I’m far from a tea partier. For me the best forecaster of how efficiently the County will use the money is the way in which they have managed the dome from when it stopped being used until now. Multiple million dollar dead end studies, tens of millions in maintenance, soliciting bids from external parties that they had no intention of actually looking at seriously. And now on top of that they have capped it all with a $0.15B proposal based on not much more than a couple of pretty sketches. If I presented a project plan that flimsy at work I’d be laughed out of the building with my possessions in an archive box!

  • To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you preserve a landmark with the county government you have, not the county government you’d like to have or might have at some future date. These guys I’m sure are not the most clever or creative or virtuous in Harris County, but their shortcomings should not mean the Dome gets destroyed.

  • Mike,

    Large scale projects where the people calling the shots are not incentivised to keep costs down rarely come in anything other than way over budget.

    A giant stadium is a cash sink in the best of circumstances. After following the decay of the stadium and the “proposal” process, if you think these are the guys to whom you want to hand that process, well, color me more skeptical of your world view.

    Reliant Stadium was about 20% over budget. The proposed Dome re-do is 70% of the proposed cost of Reliant, with roughly break even operating economics as best they can estimate.

    But I’m sure that you are right, local government contracting corruption is just a figment of Michael Berry’s imagination.

  • I aready voted and I voted no on the proposition. Higher property taxes and an undefined plan are what made me vote no. However, I just asked my wife if we can buy a set of seats and a piece of Astroturf.

  • nate99,

    Big projects rarely come in anything other than way over budget? To find a counter-example, you only need to go back to Minute Maid Park, which was projected at $240 million and came in at $225 million.

    This costs 70% of the proposed Reliant cost, and Reliant was 20% over budget? Reliant as I recall cost $450 million, which is 20% more than $375 million, 70% of which is $262 million. Wrong again.

    Need to get your facts straight, then we can chat about world views.

  • The $310 million figure was an estimate done at the time we got the franchise. It was never a serious “proposal,” and never ballot language. There were cost increases on Reliant, but some of it was paid for by the Texans.

    Minute Maid Park was on time and under budget.