Name a stadium in the United States that was initially hailed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World" and eventually fell into disrepair. If you answered the Astrodome, you are correct.
Recently The Houston Chronicle reported on a new proposal that would upgrade the stadium by gutting the interior and have the stadium replace Reliant Arena. This sounds fantastic, if not too general. Anything is better than Reliant Arena, because its only claim to fame is being the home of the Houston Comets in their final season of existence.
The upgrade will require a $270 million investment, which, ironically, was proposed by the Dallas-based company CSL. Being able to host tennis matches, hockey games, conventions or the occasional high school football game sounds great on paper. However, in order to warrant such an expenditure, there must be a permanent tenant.
The only one logical tenant for a renovated Astrodome is the University of Houston Cougars football team (who played there in the Andre Ware and David Klingler eras).
Firstly, the Cougars are leaving C-USA for the Big East. Since the Big East is not exactly the Big 12 or SEC there is no reason to build a new 80,000-person stadium when a 50,000-person stadium would suffice.
Moving to the Astrodome would also mean the Cougars would not need a brand new, and probably expensive, stadium on campus to replace their current dilapidated stadium.
There are also some financial opportunities for UH if they played in a renovated Astrodome. If UH makes a reasonable investment in the property, they will gain extra revenue from any other events held at the Astrodome. This extra revenue would probably help the University of Houston build better facilities for their football team and their other sports.
An investment in the Astrodome by the University of Houston, as well as from the Houston Rodeo (one of the largest in North America), would also help lower costs for Houston taxpayers.
The Cougars playing in a resurrected Astrodome is a winning situation.
It would be a shame if the new renovation proposal fails. The Astrodome is one of the greatest architectural achievements of the 20th century, and is something that needs to be maintained so future generations can see the “Eighth Wonder of the World."
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