Tear the Dome Down If You Must, But Not for a Freaking Parking Garage

Categories: Houston 101

astrodome-parking.jpg
Photo by Jeff Balke
I have spent most of my 44 years on this earth in the city of Houston. I started visiting the Astrodome when I was just a kid for Astros and Oilers games as well as the occasional high school football game. I even walked on the floor for one of them. After all the memories and all the discussions, I don't have a tremendous amount of sentimentality for the old girl. My life would certainly go on if it was torn down just as it did when they shuttered Astroworld or when they imploded the Shamrock Hotel.

But, for the love of all that's holy, if the powers that be are going to, once and for all, demolish the only true identifiable Houston landmark, why must it be for a parking structure?

The truth is blowing up the Astrodome to build a parking garage for VIP parking would be in character for our city. We live in a city where historic preservation may as well be a four-letter word. The laws -- and I use that term extremely loosely -- governing what can be protected are so lax that virtually anyone with a bulldozer and a wad of cash can shred any structure in the city and build whatever they goddamn well please on the piece of dirt that remains.

Most believe that the plan for the Dome has been set in motion for some time. With a limited deadline in place and few real solutions -- at least ones that have monetary backing -- it seems a foregone conclusion that the Texans and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will get their wish and teardown the Eighth Wonder of the World to be replaced by a place you park your luxury SUV.

(Of course, if they wanted that, they have a GIANT FREAKING EMPTY LOT DIRECTLY ACROSS THE FREEWAY ATTACHED WITH A BRIDGE, but that would make far too much sense.)

I've heard people complain that they are sick of hearing the argument and we should just tear down this old, sad, rotting structure. Fact is, the structure isn't rotting. Sure, the seats are. The sheetrock is. But the bones of the building are in fine condition. It has held up against multiple hurricanes and housed the victims of one of the most devastating disasters in U.S. history, a shelter for those no one else wanted. And this is how we repay that memory?

There is also the old "whatever we do, it should be cost neutral" argument. Yes, because everything good in this world must turn a profit. I'm fairly certain no one in Paris worries that the Eiffel Tower doesn't earn money. The Roman Coliseum is anything but cheap to maintain, yet the folks in Italy aren't clamoring for it to be torn down so they can put in some luxury condos. And before you start in on the whole "You can't compare those places to a football stadium," the Astrodome is modern history's version of an architectural marvel. It was the first of its kind and it is to Houston what those other iconic structures are to their cities, just a little younger.

But, I've resigned myself to the fact that it will probably be demolished. I've even given myself up to the notion that something not terribly interesting will be put in its place. But I cannot stomach the idea of a giant, concrete place to park your car so you won't get wet when it rains. It makes me sick and I assume Judge Hofheinz is spinning in his grave at the very idea. It's no wonder NASA won't let us have a space shuttle. We'd probably break it down for scrap and use the space it was in to build some cheap apartment housing.

We landed a man on the moon. We turned a swamp into a thriving, diverse city. We dug a ditch that became one of the biggest ports in the world. We went from a blue collar oil town to a white collar energy city to a high tech, independently driven metropolis that has been praised by virtually every publication that can lay ink to a page in the last 12 months.

Yet, here we are, about to make a decision to tear down the Astrodome and replace it with a parking garage that won't even improve traffic (it will make it worse, in fact). We invented nanotechnology and the artificial heart, but we can't figure out how to preserve the Astrodome? Judge Hofheinz, Red Adair, the Allen Brothers, Denton Cooley, Michael DeBakey, Neil Armstrong and every other fearless Houstonian who dared to try something crazy should drive over the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation and slap every single person in the building in the face for even thinking for one second that a parking garage was a good replacement for the Eighth Wonder of the World. It would be, frankly, better than they deserve.


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54 comments
Schitt.Rumpney
Schitt.Rumpney

Tear it down so the fat paychecks stop rolling in for the "What To Do With The Astrodome Committee";.. This has stretched year after year, same old question and same GOOD suggestions, none of which was ever taken and/or used.   Looks like the committee let this thing deteriorate to the present condition by "doing nothing" and asking the same question ever so often when it is time for one or al on the committee to buy a new suv

MJT1
MJT1

Across the road is a $70M+ piece of real estate that was supposed to be a residential / office high-rise complex until the economy tanked.  Turn the dome into a parking GARAGE and put a big garden restaurant on top.  At least with a garage we'll have better odds of remembering where we parked.

bpuw
bpuw

Build a new amplitheater, so I dont have to drive to The Woodlands everytime I want to see a concert.

Zac Elizondo
Zac Elizondo

Two thumbs up for this blog! It does need to be used for something more than a parking lot/garage....hopefully it does get used the right way....I would hate to see cars and trucks parked there!

Chuck Holland
Chuck Holland

As long the Dome carries the bond debt tearing it down makes no sense. It's structurally sound, even a short-term like a temp parking garage would generate income.

Michael FunkyButt Peck
Michael FunkyButt Peck

Wake up. Reliant replace the A-dome. Don't let Houston become a Detroit, when a building has no purpose, tear it down.

ofwiv
ofwiv

I have lived here for all of my 40+ years.  I have seen my first baseball game and my first Oiler game at the Astrodome.  I have watched countless games on TV telecast from there.  I don't understand Houston's affinity for it quite honestly.  The first few visits as an elementary aged fan were impressive, but by the time I was in junior high I wondered why the dark gray blah (other than the A/C) was what we had to deal with.  Watching road games on TV only solidified my thoughts.  I was ecstatic when the city announced the plans for the Ballpark at Union Station as anything would be better than the DOME!  To me I don't care much what happens to the dome, but instead of letting the Rodeo dictate it's fate, some forethought should be done as to how it could better serve getting Houston into the regular Super Bowl rotation.  A hotel, a music venue (HOB style), sports bars restaurants and a casino.  All would fit and make the city a SB must coupled with the mild winter weather.

Jacob Bocanegra
Jacob Bocanegra

Do I have to do all the thinking around here? Push the Texas legislature and the governor for casino gambling. Make the astrodome the worlds largest 4 storied casino. The tax revenue would pay for the construction costs within 10 years...the end..ur welcome

Carla Martinez Pugal
Carla Martinez Pugal

Permanent carnival/amusement park, condos, giant swap meet/farmers market

Alicia Richardson
Alicia Richardson

I saw a plan recently (I believe from an architecture student in Germany) to strip it down to its skeleton and make it a park. Over the weekend, we stayed at a dome hotel - it was cool. The Astrodome could be converted into a hotel with rooms around the outside and shopping/rides/dining in the middle, a la Las Vegas.

kejo66
kejo66

well said and agree.

can we put an air conditioned astro world in there?  4th largest city but no amusement park.  Closed on football Sundays?  win/win.

Michael Filley
Michael Filley

its a covered parking garage, just put in a enterance and exit

bartonzee
bartonzee

The rodeo controls the decision and they want a parking lot..  

Even the most powerful mayor in the last 30 years Bob Lanier knew not to fight the rodeo which is why Reliant stadium is built next to the Astrodome and not next to the convention center.  Creating a mega convention area which would have generated millions maybe billions per year in convention dollars for the citizens of Harris County.

Goodbye Astrodome

aliberaltexan
aliberaltexan

I think the problem is that money is the problem.  Where will you get $300 million to renovate into something useful?  Then the expenses incurred with that useful something?  The Dome is Doomed.

stephsouthern
stephsouthern

Remember the song, I can only remember the lyric "put up a parking lot ..do-do-do-do"(late 60's.) Remember Sunday drives? Often we would drive by the site in which they were digging the biggest hole I have ever seen in my life o prepare for the Dome. Subsequently, that was a Sunday drive over the next few months/years until completion. After completion I saw the circus, the rodeo, the Astros, the Oilers, and have loving memories of all of the players from Earl Campbell.".love ya blue, cruuuzzz, killer bees......the lady pulled by her hair to the top of the dome during the circus, seeing Sonny & Cher, Rolling Stones, Santana,...........they even used it for the Katrina refugees, IT CANNOT BE A PARKING LOT!!! I have actually been discussing fantasy options with other native Houstonians.  We have all been here a long time, and together we are a good think tank. Not just on FB. If they want parking... why not find a way to keep the structure and the memory and make parking in that structure available? like those downtown garage facilities? Maybe a eating/drinking/Harwin-type shopping on one level.......get the retailers to pay for some of the upgrades. Get the other investors that want the parking to invest in developing that within the bldg.? Just a thought!  We need to brainstorm

cgalexander2000
cgalexander2000

The notion that VIP parking has to be where the dome is makes no sense. If they build a garage on Kirby North Lot (north of the Stadium and west of Reliant Center) the closest point will be JUST AS CLOSE to walk from car to stadium and contiguous to the Center. A garage on Kirby North Lot can house 300 vehicles more than on the Astrodome footprint for several million less than the cost to tear down.

And, you have to think about the value of that extra parking during the rest of the year when Texans, HLSR, OTC are not in residence. You already have a nonproducing parking lot much of the year, and the Astrodome parking lot would just add to that. What is needed at Reliant Park is a way to fill parking lots. The building is up to the task, lots of talented people are working on ways to bring new life, fun, culture and commerce into the place. 

Hilda Marceleno
Hilda Marceleno

Hot as it is here, they should do some kind of indoor entertainment.

Ronnie Corb
Ronnie Corb

Same thing happened to the historic Shamrock Hilton in the 80's. Most of us got over it.

Coby Vige
Coby Vige

Make it into a casino a parking lot would do nothing

maedlarez
maedlarez

I'm not a native Houstonian, but I have lived here for a while so i'm fond of Houston. I constantly hear people complain how Houston is such an underrated city, and/or the mockery of how backwoods Houston is compare to city like N.Y, Chicago, etc....Well when Houston keeps on displaying this inexplicable knack for destroying beautiful HISTORY LANDMARK SITES, and Houstonians allowing it to Happen. THEN WE DESERVE ALL THE BAD OPINIONS AND MOCKERY!!! ....I'm fond of Houston, but things like this disappoint me and makes understand and agree with the rest  of other harsh criticism I constantly hear about Houston.

William L. Sandles
William L. Sandles

"They paved paradise/put up a parking lot/with a pink hotel a boutique and a swinging hot spot...don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got till it's GONE."

Xavier Gonzalez
Xavier Gonzalez

They should at least do a month of tours before they close it down...I've never been in there, and i loved the Oilers and the Mike Scott/Nolan Ryan era Astros. Every time i see the Texans, i always try to figure out a way to get in there.

Noelle A. Perry
Noelle A. Perry

" It's no wonder NASA won't let us have a space shuttle. We'd probably break it down for scrap and use the space it was in to build some cheap apartment housing." this is probably true. :(

Stevan Ilan Trujillo
Stevan Ilan Trujillo

you people are here are kinda weird. Just tear it down. yall are making a big deal over nothing. It should have been torn down before Reliant was even built. They knew it was never to be used again and it just cost taxpayers millions just to keep it up year after year. Wouldnt people just want to pay a tad bit more once just to tear it down? Parking lot, park, another building, whatever it is: the Dome needs to go. This is coming from someone who's first professional sports memories are in that stadium. I love that place. I remember it being so massive when I was a kid (still is) and it was my favorite place to go but you cant live in the past. Yankees tore down Yankee Stadium...FREAKIN YANKEE STADIUM!!!! Do you idiots not grasp tha?They tore down a stadium that has WAAAAY more history in it than any stadium and/or some neighborhoods in Houston will ever have? they knew it had to be done. The Cardinals did the same with Busch Stadium. Let it go people. It will be bittersweet but it should happen.

ecnordstrom
ecnordstrom

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: indoor ski mountain

Raymond Guy LaFauci
Raymond Guy LaFauci

They tore down Yankee Stadium for a parking lot for the new Yankee Stadium. And that facility actually had world championships won in it.

Nicholas Hunter
Nicholas Hunter

The day they tore down the Alehouse on Alabama and built a car showroom was they day I gave up on Houston. No sense of history in this town at all.

urmom
urmom

put bud adams picture on it and implode the damn thing!

Ashe Vige'
Ashe Vige'

Why can't they just turn the dome into a parking garage? Sure, it would be kinda tacky but it's better than tearing it down.

Dana Marie Cain
Dana Marie Cain

This is an insult to history. How can they even consider doing that to a national historic landmark like the Dome? What's wrong with people?

Eddie Cortes
Eddie Cortes

That would be just perfect & precisely symbolic of the spirit of this city...or the lack thereof. Proof positive that this place has no soul.

Dallas Hölmes
Dallas Hölmes

when someplace that rapes itself of historic landmarks, such as NYC says that houston would be making a mistake by tearing the dome down, that says something....

Craigley
Craigley

This is what happens when Baby Boomers, the most selfish generation, rule the kingdom.  

I just hope they don't expect us to change their depends.  It's not going to happen.

Miriam Urrabazo
Miriam Urrabazo

totally agree! a parking lot?? best line of the article " they have a GIANT FREAKING EMPTY LOT DIRECTLY ACROSS THE FREEWAY ATTACHED WITH A BRIDGE, but that would make far too much sense"

Amanda Musquiz
Amanda Musquiz

Having grown up in Houston this breaks my heart too. I think it's total BS the way the city crushes landmarks and we suddenly get a Starbucks in its place. It's one of the main reasons I enjoy other cities because they have character and charm and history.

Jad Mashni
Jad Mashni

Why not put it to a municipal referendum so we can all have a say?

John Chance McKay
John Chance McKay

The Tax payers paid big dollars for the Dome. We should have a vote on what happens to it.

Meredith Appling
Meredith Appling

I feel the same way. (except for the unnecessary use of 'gd' in the article) The thought of this breaks my heart.

Roland Ruiz
Roland Ruiz

What else are you going to put there? Another stadium?

John Chance McKay
John Chance McKay

Lease it to me as they Did for Bud Adams, for a dollar a year. And I'll make the best Skatin Facility the World has ever seen. With lots of Derby Tracks.

Sherry Obsheatz
Sherry Obsheatz

How about a park instead. We could use some more green space.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

With respect to @brentclanton and @granmadave, it's a $2million/year tax pit. Parking garage for VIPs? Great. Who else can afford the tickets these days? Those fees will staunch the bleeding and maybe put some coin in the coffers.

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

There's also an issue of traffic associated with stacking two--at that time--50K-seat stadiums with the GRB convention hall. Even now, getting around a Dynamo's game is a hassle and BBVA only seats 20K. No problems with traffic during Astros games, though. Just saying.

jak5717
jak5717

 @ecnordstromI've been saying that for a while now. If you add to it and make it big enough, you'll attract visitors from around the south...many who have never experienced snow recreation and maybe never will.

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