The Next Great Winter Olympic Training Ground: The Astrodome
When Judge Roy Hofheinz conceived of an indoor stadium, he was doing so as a true Houstonian. Despite pleas from health-care providers and forward-thinking politicians, Houston is not really an outdoorsy city. That has changed somewhat with the construction of hike and bike trails, the massive renovations to the area along Buffalo Bayou and the enhancement of many area parks -- never mind some whipped up from scratch.
Photo by 1947 Houstonian State-of-the-art Buffalo Stadium, complete with heat, humidity and mosquitoes.
Houston is, for the most part, a hot and humid place, particularly in the middle of summer when going outside is often like walking directly into a steam room. So when Hofheinz built the Astrodome, he did it having personal knowledge of the brutality of seeing a game at Buffalo Stadium, home to the Astros predecessors the Houston Buffs. It is said that mosquitoes outnumbered the humans 20 to 1 at Buffalo Stadium. Imagine seeing a ballgame at an outdoor stadium in the dead of August the afternoon following a rainstorm. Shiver.
Unfortunately, as we are all aware, the Astrodome is likely headed for the wrecking ball if some 11th-hour hail Mary miracle doesn't occur. Watching the Olympics over the past week reminded me that there is a solution.
We cannot continue to allow our Olympic winter athletes to defect to such heinous locales as Colorado or, God help us, Canada. For too long, Houston athletes who just wanted a little snow to help them achieve their Olympic dreams as a snowboarder or skier saw their hopes dashed to bits under an unrelenting July sun.
Fortunately, our weather-challenged nightmare need not put a stranglehold on the dreams of young athletes when we have a perfectly good gigantic building in which to build an Alpine paradise. For years, rumors have floated around that one possible option for the dilapidated stadium on Kirby was as an indoor ski park. Seeing the Olympics in Sochi, it all makes so much sense now.
Who needs to traverse harsh winter weather en route to Taos or Breckenridge or Salt Lake City when you can just take a drive down 610? Imagine the bewilderment of children who have never seen snow when they gaze upon the majesty of imitation frozen precipitation blown out of giant machines when it is 90 degrees outside. Plus, instead of freezing their asses off on the side of some godforsaken mountain, Olympic hopefuls would be able to enjoy the pleasure of a 65-degree January day outside and the thrills of a snowboard half pipe inside.
Is it a stupid idea? You bet your ass it is. But if all they are going to do anyway is tear down the Eighth Wonder of the World, why not breathe new, frosty life into the old girl with a giant fake mountain, an ice rink and maybe even a luxury resort where you can put your feet up by a roaring fire and watch the fake snowflakes fall outside your faux window.
What? You got a better idea?