On Tuesday, Harris County voters rejected a proposition to save the Astrodome. Instead of saving and renovating the Dome, now plans will begin to demolish the Eighth Wonder of the World.
I'm not surprised by this, nor am I particularly sad. I'm apparently in the minority, though. People took to Twitter Wednesday morning with a sadness, remembering the good times at the Dome with the hashtag #AstrodomeMemories. You can find some of them below.
Tweets about "#AstrodomeMemories"
Astros County also wrote a great piece, delving into his memories of the Dome and what he was losing with the building going away.
The Astrodome means a lot to me. It helped me adjust to a new, freaking huge city. The Astrodome is where I took girls. The Astrodome is where I saw my favorite band of all time play live for the very first time. The Astrodome is where I interviewed Shane Reynolds. The Astrodome is where my wife and I went to try to help people adjust to a new, freaking huge city after their old, freaking huge city was destroyed by a hurricane.
And for $8, Harris County voted to tear it down.
It's a wonderful piece and I can completely understand where he and everyone tweeting out melancholy memories of the Astrodome are coming from. Heck, I even wrote a short post about the Dome right when I got started on TCB, way back in 2009. It's not my best work (seriously, I should NEVER read my old stories), but I did hit on a similar point.
Last week, I was walking into Reliant Stadium, right past the Astrodome. Seeing the grassy parts leading up to the stadium reminded me of all the good memories I had in that place.
See, I may be like many others in that my family used to go to Astroworld or the Rodeo and sit up on those grassy hills to eat lunch. It was a little thing, but a good memory.
And that's the thing that gets me about the Astrodome, as it sits there, useless. It has so many good, warm memories for me that I can't help but feel sad to see it empty now.
Why was I sad? Because the Dome sat there, getting older, growing useless with no purpose, no visitors and no plan for the future. That's the real problem today. The Dome didn't just get a death sentence with Tuesday's vote. It had been coming for a long time.
Basically, when they first shut it down and decided not to fix it up or make it workable, the Dome would someday get torn down. No one knew what to do with the thing. Historical preservationists could restore it, but for what purpose? No team would be plying their trade there. It wasn't going to suddenly become a hot concert venue, so it sat. And sat. And sat.
That's what made me sad, for exactly the reasons Rob Neyer lays out in this piece over at Baseball Nation:
What I'll miss is the Tinker Toy-style dome, and I'll be forever grateful for the chance to visit the Astrodome for a pair of games in the Astros' last season there. It's the only indoor baseball that I've actually enjoyed because of the ballpark, rather than despite it. But an exhibition hall isn't a ballpark any more than a tree farm is a forest. Preservation's a wonderful thing, and I would like to have seen that roof from the inside again. But I think maybe it's time to let this one go. Without baseball, the Astrodome's thereness would always have been hazy anyway, unreal.
Neyer refers to a quote from earlier in his story about about the Coliseum and how people visit it, but don't connect to it like it used to be. This great piece of architecture sits without context and slightly unreal. That's exactly what the Astrodome had become. Without anyone being able to roam around inside, to attend games or the rodeo or any event, period, the Dome stopped creating memories.
So, what people are sad about today isn't the loss of the Dome itself. It's the loss of the source of their memories. They won't be able to see it walking into a Texans game and remember the feeling of driving up to the Dome as a kid, with the thrill of excitement at seeing the top of it sneak into view. They won't be able to catch a glimpse of it from 610 and remember that time Jimmy Wynn hit a home run against the Cardinals or Dodgers and the Dome went crazy. That tangible link to J.R. Richard, to Jose Cruz and Larry Dierker and the Killer Bees will soon be gone.
A convention center that needed significant renovations wouldn't have saved that. Add in the amount of money needed to save the thing and the chances that the Dome would be saved were extremely small. After all, money can't buy you love and $200 million can't buy you memories.