The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Astrodome fades, crumbles as Houston decides fate
Rows of dirty, tattered seats ring the Astrodome Monday, May 21, 2012, in Houston. Once touted as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the nation's first domed stadium sits quietly gathering dust and items for storage. AP Photo/Pat Sullivan.

By: Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP).- The Astrodome was once the envy of other cities, a fully air-conditioned stadium that had a translucent roof to keep out the heat and humidity, the first synthetic grass — and the power to make Houston into a sports-entertainment destination.

Walt Disney, according to local legend, was so blown away when he stood under the dome that he dubbed it the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Then stadium designers began building venues with retractable roofs. And the Astrodome, in its heyday the proud host to everyone from Muhammad Ali to Madonna, rapidly became a relic of the past.

Now, after years on the sidelines, the Astrodome is in the spotlight again. The agency that runs the facility planned to render a recommendation Wednesday on its future. One option could be a fate that other domes have met — demolition.

For now, the signature feature of Houston's skyline is mired in disrepair and decay. Dirt covers the floors. Mold creeps up the walls. The AstroTurf that got its name from the building is a dirty, rumpled mess.

"It was an amazing structure at its time," said Mark Miller, general manager of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp., which oversees the Astrodome, Reliant Stadium and other complexes on the 340-acre campus.

"People were coming from all over the world to see the Astrodome. It was that significant. People like Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney, John Wayne," Miller added. "It seems commonplace now, but for its time, being the first, it was just incredible."

However, the dome has not been used for an event since 2008. More memorably, in 2005 it housed refugees from Hurricane Katrina.

On a tour taken this week by an Associated Press reporter, piles of cardboard boxes littered the stadium floor alongside a crumpled mat of synthetic football field. Trash was strewn around the stands under the torn seats, the same ones from which spectators watched the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, concerts by Elvis and the Rolling Stones, and the Republican National Convention.

In 1965, Houston opened its marvel, complete with luxury suites, almost tasty food and beer served at clean Formica counters. There were comfortable press boxes and cushioned seats.

The original plan even called for natural grass on the field, but it couldn't grow under the skylights after they were painted to reduce glare for athletes. At one point, when the grass turned brown, groundskeepers spray painted it green.

Plastic AstroTurf debuted in 1966 as the first artificial playing surface. Ballplayers soon began complaining that it was unfriendly to knees, backs and joints, and balls didn't fly as far in the enclosed air.

Other cities quickly followed with their own domes: the Kingdome in Seattle, now gone; the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.; Minneapolis' Metrodome; and New Orleans' Superdome, considered bigger and better than the Astrodome.

"Eventually, it's always about money," said Bob Bluthardt, former chairman of the ballparks research committee at the Society for American Baseball Research. "And the Astrodome went from being state-of-the-art to being obsolete in barely a generation."

John Pastier, an architect who wrote the 2006 book "Historic Ballparks," agreed.

"The fixed dome had a certain period of currency and then was replaced by retractable domes," he said.

A roof that opens and closes has the benefit of beating back the elements when necessary while also being able to let in the air and the view.

The National Football League Houston Oilers left for Tennessee in the 1990s. Major league baseball's Houston Astros wanted their own stadium, so they built Minute Maid Park with a retractable roof. The NFL's Texans also got a new retractable-roof stadium — Reliant — that opened in 2002.

Since then, the Astrodome hasn't turned a profit.

So when it came to paying millions to get inspections and permits renewed, the corporation opted out. And the Astrodome has stood largely vacant.

The idea of demolition offends some Houstonians.

But the option remains the cheapest, $128 million as of 2010, including the cost of transforming the site into a plaza with green space and a water feature. That's compared with nearly $400 million for a simple multipurpose facility and nearly $600 million to remake the dome into a "renaissance" building with a museum, science-and-technology attractions, a conference center and a movie studio.

In a state with no income tax and a city that collects only sales and property taxes, the idea of using public money to build a new facility might be less popular than demolition.

Bluthardt, the baseball historian, believes Houstonians would, in the end, accept demolition.

"Houston ... by nature is a city that looks to the future," he said.

If the planners find a sustainable model for saving the structure, the Astrodome could survive. Otherwise, it could disappear in a large boom and a cloud of smoke.

"It will be another chapter in the Astrodome's long history," Bluthardt added.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Today's News

May 24, 2012

Earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of the City of Bethlehem found

"The Horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot"; British Museum explores the influence of horses

Greek relief from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens goes on view at the Getty Villa

World record achieved for Ghanaian artist at Bonhams Contemporary African Art Sale

Royal Bank of Scotland ten-pound note celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's 60-year reign

Leo Villareal's latest body of work in new exhibition at Conner Contemporary Art

Wanted: Bigfoot hair samples for European study by Oxford University and Lausanne Museum of Zoology

June auctions at Koller: Large number of high quality objects in all the specialist areas

Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid recreates German artist Rosemarie Trockel's Cosmos

"Made Active: The Chartwell Show"; Artists who explore gesture, action and its effects at Auckland Art Gallery

Exhibition of works by New York based artist Holton Rower opens at Shizaru in London

American Folk Art Museum presents Jubilation/Rumination in celebration of its 50th anniversary

Quinn's Auction Galleries to offer fine and decorative art from Washington-area estates on June 9

Library of Congress taps 25 sounds for registry

1,600 museums offer military families free tickets

6-year-olds wander from Pa. school to museum

Moon chips from Vegas casino mogul sent to NASA

Astrodome fades, crumbles as Houston decides fate

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- New Rembrandt found after being bought at London auction

2.- Exhibition at Fotohof focuses on groups in society who are at risk of marginalisation

3.- John Brennan collection of Rock n Roll memorabilia offered at RR Auction

4.- A Bob Dylan guitar fetches $495,000 at auction

5.- Exhibition in San Francisco focuses on the latter half of René Magritte's career

6.- 'Mad' king Ludwig II of Bavaria lost gift to composer Richard Wagner gets rare show

7.- New Royal Academy of Arts opens in celebration of its 250th anniversary

8.- Researchers uncover Anne Frank's 'dirty jokes'in her diary

9.- New York art sales near $3 billion in two weeks as uber-rich hunt trophies

10.- Berlin's Ethnological Museum returns grave-plundered artefacts to Alaska

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful