Since the initial news, Lisa Gray of the Houston Chronicle has updates on the Astrodome saga. The full plan from the Texans and the Houston Livestock show and Rodeo have finally been revealed, and the county, is now considering it…
Yesterday Harris County said that it’s open to a plan to raze the Astrodome and create in its place a park that salutes the Astrodome’s history. Just for a moment, let’s pretend that’s not crazy.
In the site plan, the proposed park is described as “reminiscent of Discovery Green” — which is to say, like one of Houston’s favorite parks, an intensely used, much-loved urban space. But the description of the Astrodome park and the its site plan — see the slideshow — seem very different. There’d be a ring that imitates the old Astrodome’s “ribs,” each decked out with a historic plaque. There’d be multiple “event stages.” And at the center, in something that looks like a mini-Dome, is what the site plan seems to call a Hall of Fame.
It’s unfortunate that more Houston- area business leaders don’t see the potential of a repurposed Astrodome. The park proposal is certainly not a bad idea, but short-sighted compared to what could be done. Still, this plan is a marked improvement over the worst-case scenario of a surface parking lot, and the choice to honor the original structure is appreciated and absolutely necessary. If done right and well-maintained, even the park proposal could be utilized to grow the city’s tourism business.
But the secret to creating a tourist draw that Houston hasn’t seemed to figure out yet… it doesn’t happen overnight. Like any business venture, you have to make an upfront investment, promote it and then trust that you’ve done everything you can to make it a good visitor experience.
In recent years, the Bayou City has made some good choices that provide good tourism potential. With all of the city’s major sports facilities located in close proximity, it’s easy to envision a scenario where people come to the city for a sporting event, but then add a visit to the Dome sight to learn about sports history. Having a museum on the site (perhaps this is what the Rodeo/ Texans plan is referencing with their Mini-dome “hall of fame”) should be essential. The Astrodome’s mark is forever written into the 20th century, and Houston would be foolish to not observe and honor it as such.
Regarding this and any other possible proposals, we’ll see what happens soon enough. See Brains and Eggs, Off the Kuff and Texpatriate for more thoughts.