The Astrodome: A Future as Art

Dame Astrodome: Maybe we let her go out the way she came in back in 1965 - all sculpted girders as a living eco-green reminder of her place in history and with no more costly gridlock on how we save her for some other newfound commercial venture.

Less than a month ago, Early Houston Baseball Research artist Patrick Lopez suggested that we should consider “saving” the Astrodome in the most energy-efficient way available to us. Lopez suggested we strip the iconic symbol of all new sports venue domed stadium construction in the world down to only the steel structure that still defines her structure and thus allow the old girl to breathe the free air as a girded reminder to all of her place in the world history of architecture. The interior could be developed as an open air Astrodome Memorial Park, perhaps, even preserving in some kind of flexible way a plan for preserving home plate and the diamond dimensions for some further use of the place for fun baseball games – and maybe even the home field of our vintage baseball league team, the Houston Babies.

What a combo that would make! The resurrected 1888 Houston Babies, the city’s first professional baseball club, playing their games within the architectural heart of this town’s and the world’s first domed multi-purpose sports stadium!

The place could be dotted with convenience features like clean, operative rest rooms, fast food service, souvenir and historical tour shows – maybe even a small museum with a theater that could show the history of the Dome and other historical Houston features – everything from our history in sports to our city’s role in medicine, the performing and visual arts, the ship channel, the Texas Medical Center, the petrochemical industry, higher education, NASA, and the roles of our various sub-cultures in Houston’s growth as a significant international city.

The place could be landscaped for shade and greenery – and maybe the Houston Zoo will get involved in locating a rotating display there of all the zoo animals that are in need of protection from extinction in the wilds.

It could be anything we choose to make it. My words are simply my sketch. We are only limited by the volume of our passion, the flight-worthy character of our imaginations, and the steel of our political resolve to see that the Astrodome comes to a rightful new purpose before it slips irrevocably into a state of irredeemable costly repair.

This will be a low maintenance working, living, breathing memorial that serves as an ongoing family fun spot, teaching and recreational venue, and promotional spotlight on whatever side of Houston we want to promote to visitors. And there will be no “Big Bertha” AC bill to pay every month. The Astrodome itself will have become the sculpture that defines what is special about this very special spot of Houston ground. Other lower maintenance costs can most probably be covered by good planning for an array of year-round events that are staged on site to help cover most, if not all, of the costs.

If we could just tear our way through the overwhelming squelch of apathy and get some of that old-fashioned Houston hustle and muscle behind this kind of plan, we could get her done – and sleep a lot better in the knowledge that we, as Houstonians, didn’t just sit idly by until the old girl died from the structural equivalent of human cancer.

What do you say, folks? Can you see what Patrick Lopez and I are talking about? And are you willing to get behind the promotion of such a plan to our local government leaders?

It’s going to take a combination of creativity, leadership, expertise, and a love for Houston and the Astrodome  to get this kind of ball rolling – and all I can think to do for starters is to make this plea and to make sure I also send a link to this column to County Judge Emmett and Mayor Parker. If anyone cares to step forward and organize a formal appeal plan, I, for one, will be glad to help you in any way that I am able. I’m just not young enough, politically big enough, or fool enough, to take on this beast by myself. We need a courageous individual or group of  similar-minded Houstonians to take on the job of putting together a plan for the Astrodome Arboretum – or whatever we may choose to call it.

Step up now and speak your mind by leaving a comment on this column. As I see it, the time is pretty close to now or never.

I can also be reached by e-mail at houston_buff@hotmail.com

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5 Responses to “The Astrodome: A Future as Art”

  1. J-Dub Says:

    Isn’t it funny how the Astrodome once was dubbed “the 8th wonder of the world” and now it’s literally being left to rot?

  2. A. Richie Says:

    Bill, you might know. Has anyone ever suggested a full-fledged Texas Museum, much like Space Center Houston with exhibits, rides, shows, etc showcasing the rich history of our state? With six flags to work with, there should be plenty of interesting, enriching and fun things to do, see and experience.

  3. Bob Hulsey Says:

    How might this stand up in a hurricane? The completed Dome did well but a stripped-down version could be lethal if parts were to come loose and girders flew through the sky, particularly since we know how fragile the roof at Reliant is.

    If that checks out, I’m cool with the idea but I just see a ton of potential lawsuits if disaster happened.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Fair question, Bob, and I have no idea as to the answer. The only other thing like it that comes to mind is the Eiffel Tower, but maybe Paris is free of the devil winds. Hopefully, Patrick Lopez will weigh in on the hurricane/tornado damage danger beyond the ordinary from such a structure.

  4. Timothy De Block Says:

    I was curious how much it would cost to accomplish this. Down the road it seems fairly low maintenance, but stripping away the outer shell and leaving just the framework seems even more expensive than either renovating it or demolishing it.

    It’s an interesting idea though.

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