Goodbye to a landmark

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POSTED: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 6:32pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - 6:37pm

It was the first covered, air conditioned sports stadium in the world.
It hosted the Astros, Oilers, rodeos, conventions, Elvis, even a bullfight.
But yesterday, Houston threw it away.
They say that people in our business shouldn’t get too involved in their stories.
We need to be dispassionate.
But if you are from Houston, what happened yesterday stirs a lot of passions.
Houston has little regard for its own history.
The joke is, if it has a second coat of paint in Houston, it’s an antique.
And yesterday, the voters turned down a $217-million dollar bond issue to turn the now empty Astrodome into a convention center.
That almost surely condemns it to the wrecking ball.
But if you are the right age, and a Houston sports fan, the old 8th wonder of the world was magical.
My dad and I used to sit sweltering in a Houston July watching first the minor league Houston Buffs, and in 1962, our Colt 45’s.
And at Colt Stadium, while we swatted away mosquitoes the size of Yorkies, we saw across the parking lot, the Harris County Dome stadium being built.
Opened in 1965, It became the Astrodome, and the Colts became the Astros.
And the Astros and Oilers games were suddenly pleasant as we sat in air conditioned comfort.
Later as a journalist, I covered events there like the 1992 Republican Convention.
And then in 1994, my opportunity came. As one who played the game right up through college, and chance to go to Astros Fantasy Camp…meet and be coached by my idols…to get to play first base…pitch…hit…run the bases…and hear your name called on the PA system in the Astrodome was a dream come true.
But soon, it will all end, and for one old Houstonian, my home town will never quite be the same.
There have been a million ideas for what to do with the old Dome.
But in the end, no one wanted to spend the money.
So, like the glorious Shamrock Hotel before it, it will now just become room for more parking.

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