The Astrodome Is Our Roman Colosseum and We're Going to Tear It Down
When the Roman Colosseum was built, it was a sports stadium, the first of its kind and a spectacle like nothing seen before. It was iconic beyond what took place inside, but the atrocities and spectacular events that did occur inside the building added to its mystique. It became a symbol of Rome, so much so that it is certainly the most iconic structure in the city to this day.
Photo by Jeff Balke Forgotten, but not yet gone.
Remind you of anything? When the comparison to the Astrodome first grazes your cerebral cortex, the reaction might go something like, "Are you crazy? The Astrodome is NOTHING like the Colosseum." But then imagine it preserved 1,000 years from now and try again.
While the Astrodome was built as simply a sports stadium, it transcended that oversimplification because of the iconic nature of the building itself, nevermind the spectacles that took place inside. It was the first indoor stadium with turf invented specifically for its design. It became the standard by which other stadiums were measured and the turf is still widely used for more than just stadiums. Inside, it helped break down gender barriers, opened the country's eyes to the excitement of college basketball (and inadvertently created a multi-billion dollar business in the process) and, in retirement, provided shelter for thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors.
The Astrodome is the single most identifiable structure in the city of Houston by a wide margin. It is our Roman Colosseum.
Yet here we stand, a rejected bond deal in hand and the wrecking ball around the corner. The arguments against saving the Dome were that it was too expensive to repair or it was the wrong plan. But in other parts of the world, they don't care what it takes to preserve their history. The Colosseum has undergone massive renovations over the years and no one batted an eye or thought about tearing it down in favor of parking garages or apartment buildings -- both no doubt highly sought after in a crowded city like Rome.
New York hasn't replaced the Statue of Liberty with luxury condos. Greece isn't imploding the Parthenon in favor of a 5-star restaurant. The Pyramids aren't up for sale in Cairo.
But, the "Eighth Wonder of the World" will likely soon become a parking garage, which is incredible when you stop and realize that, for Houston, the Astrodome is our Statue of Liberty, our Parthenon, our Great Pyramid at Giza. Instead of understanding this simple fact and preserving our history for future generations, we argued and haggled and ultimately failed the Dome and ourselves.