Last night saw the effective end to the Astrodome. The county judges threw out a plan that was several years old and unimaginative in the hopes of fooling the local citizens that they cared about saving the dome. Citizens saw through this and vetoed the measure. Now, the future of the dome is probably officially over. While the issue may not carry the same weight as our national issues, it illustrates the problem with politics in our generation.
As Houstonians, we have been grappling over what to do with the facility since the Astros left it in 2000. Sure, they used it for some rodeo functions, some high school football games, and to help the evacuees from Katrina, but mostly it has sat there dormant. When I say dormant I mean dormant. Now, it serves as a home for hundreds of rats and stray cats. I love cats, but that hardly seems like a good use for what was once the eighth wonder of the world.
In a true microcosm of politics on the national stage, we have battled over the past decade about whether to preserve it, refurbish and reuse it, or tear it down. What has angered me in particular are the folks that say we can’t tear it down because it is a historical landmark. That sentiment doesn’t anger me by itself, but the fact that no one from that camp has offered one sensible solution to maintain it is infuriating. I can hear the dialogue now,
Save the Dome Guy: “We can’t tear it down!”
Sensible Adult: “Why not?
SDG: “It’s a historical landmark.”
SA: “So what to do you want to do with it?”
SDG: “I don’t know.”
Exactly. They don’t know. Do you think the British would allow Stonehenge to become a blight? Do you think the French would let the Eiffel Tower go to crap? Would the Egyptians let the pyramids crumble while they bickered about what to do? You either lead, follow, or get out of the way. Either keep it up or tear it down.
My personal belief is that the county commissioners really wanted to tear it down. Personally, I can’t blame them for that opinion. I blame them for not putting on their big boy and big girl pants and coming out and announcing it. What they did instead is come out and put forth a proposal we all thought was crap more than five years ago. So, when the plan would fail (which it has) they could come out and said they tried to save it, but didn’t get public support. Now, they would have to tear it down.
1980 was the first time I went to the Astrodome. I went to watch the Astros with my Little League team. I remember being awe inspired by the size of the place and the scoreboard (which was subsequently torn down in 1987 at the behest of that scumbag Bud Adams). I worked there for two summers as a part-time groundscrew member. I loved the place. I think many Houstonians feel the same way.
You don’t treat someone or something you love like this. The human equivalent would be like keeping someone on life support for years and allowing them to soil themselves without bed pans. If you aren’t going to come up with anything worthwhile then set it free. Put up a plaque and get it over with.