clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is the World's First Domed Stadium Departing With a Whimper?

New, 4 comments

The Houston Astrodome took what could be its first halting steps toward demolition Sunday night, as high-powered explosives reduced its three entrance towers to rubble, but the fate of the world's first domed indoor stadium is anything but clear. Hailed as the eighth wonder of the world when it was completed in 1965, years of disrepair and mounting code violations have since earned it an unpromising spot on the 2013 edition of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of America's most endangered places. In early November, voters in Houston turned down a $217M referendum to renovate the Astrodome, proposals for which included turning it into a mixed-use convention center and commercial space called "The New Dome Experience," and one pretty awesome plan to strip the thing down to its skeleton and install a public park at its center. In hindsight, the latter may have been a bit overly optimistic.

But despite the failed referendum, the fate of the Astrodome is still up to the Harris County Commissioners Court, whose members have since expressed disappointment at the low voter turnout. The demolition of the ramp towers, added for accessibility in 1980 and not considered historical, was set to take place even if the referendum had passed, but to many less attuned to the preservation politics playing out in Houston, the effort looks like a prelude to full-scale deconstruction. As CBS's Eye on Baseball blog put it, "Commence pouring one out—and by 'one' we mean a bottle of Riunite on ice—for the Houston Astrodome."

Much has been said about current state of our threatened architectural feats, that they're too young to be deemed historic sites or, at the very least, gather enough nostalgia to help stave off demolition. The voters of Houston may not have saved the Astrodome, but new plans are still emerging to give the structure some kind of second life, whether through private development or a public-private partnership. Somewhat hearteningly, fans cared enough about securing their own piece of it to buy up 2,400 pairs of Astrodome seats within hours of them going on sale. If that kind of effort was directed elsewhere—say, at emailing Harris County officials—then the Astrodome might yet see better days.

· The Houston Astrodome: The Saga Continues [Preservation Nation]