A new proposal would turn the historic stadium into a small museum and a large urban green space
Once lovingly called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” (along with King Kong and the International Space Station), Houston’s iconic Astrodome has seen far better and more glamorous days. After an earlier movement to restore the ailing stadium as a convention center failed, a new proposal is garnering attention: to tear down the dome, fill the space with a lush park, and erect a miniature version of the dome in the middle.
The Astrodome, recently rebranded the NRG Astrodome, opened in 1965 as the world’s first multipurpose domed sports stadium. The proposal, developed by the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo groups, would preserve the original skeleton of the structure, demolish the rest to make way for park space, and erect a dome-shaped, dome-centered museum to pay tribute to its history.
The $66-million development, modeled after urban park Discovery Green, would include green space inside and surrounding the framework in an area of Houston dominated by concrete. The space could also be used, the proposal suggests, to supplement various events in the NRG Park development, such as fairs and concerts.
The plan has a long journey ahead if it is to be approved; as the Dallas Morning News reports, “[d]emolition, contrary to popular belief, does not appear imminent. That would be a costly undertaking in itself — anywhere from $5 million to $80 million, depending on whom you ask.” Leroy Shafer, chief operating officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo chief, too, was hesitant to predict the Astrodome’s demise in a recent statement about the park proposal:
This is just one more feasible option for use of the space where the NRG Astrodome now stands… Although the option does include removal of the NRG Astrodome building itself, it pays homage to the history, heritage and culture of the Dome… This plan would also provide a major green space in the middle of NRG Park, which we’ve never had. It will benefit any event held at NRG Park with its functionality and usability.
Judge Ed Emmett, Harris County’s top elected official, is a major proponent of keeping the Astrodome intact; as he explained to a Houston crowd this month, he believes the building “is going to become a critical piece of who we are as a community… [i]t’s not about nostalgia. It’s an asset that belongs to the taxpayers of Harris County.” He also predicted that, if the dome were dismantled, in ten or twelve years “somebody would come forth and say ‘If we just had the Astrodome.’”
[h/t] City Lab