The Dome and NRG: How Close is Close?

Astrodome Reflection in NRG Wall
Photo by Bill McCurdy


How close is close? This photo I took of the Astrodome’s reflection upon the eastern glass walls of what is now called NRG Stadium back in 2005 speaks to the question.

Neither superstructure has moved an inch closer or further away from each other in the twelve years that have passed since this shot was taken, but it’s hard to say what the distance now is between the two groups that support the future of each? NRG is still the love-child venue for the NFL Houston Texans, the Houston Rodeo, and various other special promotions and concerts that play throughout the year. If anything, one gets the impression that the NRG multipurpose event sponsors are simply now stronger and richer than they were in 2005, having established the annual Texas Bowl at the end of the college football year – and another strong gate college football opening game as the other bookend on that sport, plus, adding some March Madness basketball games and one national championship as upgrades on the big truck events that apparently have some attraction to a few fans.

What NRG does not have now is that extra paved parking lot space they would own by the anticipated demolition of the neighborly abandoned house next door. In 2005, the Astrodome was still living out the early years of its “abandoned waif in the storm” period. That was the time in which some people were starting to speak wistfully about their “growing up with the dome” memories and gently waking up to the awareness that the Astros had been allowed to skip out to their new Enron Field digs downtown with the county having no exit plan for “what happens next” or any budgeted funds to put any plan into motion for bringing new life to what was also coming more to life as one the world’s unique pieces of architecture – and as important to Houston as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.

Uh! Oh! The motivations for saving the dome were growing after 2005. Supporters begin to gather and organize around two basic ideas: (1) They want to keep the Astrodome because of what it had meant to them and the history of Houston; and, (2) They felt both the desire and the duty to preserve the Astrodome for what it meant to the history of world architecture and the reputation of Houston as a city that saw a tough job, but found a way to legitimately preserve the Astrodome for generation to come. As a complete thought, local preservationists, with steely support from Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and the Harris County Commissioner’s Court all went to bat for the Dome and managed to push through an affordable plan to renovate the Astrodome and make sure that it shall belong to the ages in a respectful way.

Now it’s time for the action part of the plan – and uncounted millions of us await the initiative of an ongoing digital progress report via the Internet.

Our original question still stands, but with the obvious human adaptation that needs to be added. – How close are Judge Emmett and his Astrodome Supporters group to working with Bob McNair and the Rodeo People to make this change as smooth and jointly beneficial as possible? And, if the answer here is anything from “nowhere” to “ambiguity” – does that mean we still face an underhanded play of political pot holes to get the Astrodome running in its new life?

Hope not. Houston’s ability to rally together here in behalf of the Astrodome is big. That incredibly close structure in the column header photo will soon enough again be speaking with a beating heart. And she will be close enough to kiss you too, NRG.

And kisses “hello” are so much nicer than kisses “goodbye”.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle



3 Responses to “The Dome and NRG: How Close is Close?”

  1. Mark W Says:

    Bill, what sort of cooperation between McNair and the Rodeo folks and the dome renovators would be needed, other than not getting in each other’s way while getting cars parked for games?

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Mark – Your point is what makes the question “how close is close” so important. Unless they can’t handle physical proximity, not getting in each other’s way is all that’s needed. If they can find a way to serve each other’s joint or separate interests, so much the better. Most of the adjustment now rests upon the NRG people finally accepting that the Dome is not going away.

  2. Larry Dierker Says:

    I thought Mike Acosta said it was a done deal at the last SABR meeting. If not, McNair wanting demolition for parking is worse than selling photos of fans in front of Tal’s Hill at the end of last year. The hill is not a Houston landmark. The Dome is. I think Mike said that Parisians considered taking down the Eiffel Tower after the World’s Fair. The dome is not the equivalent of the tower in my opinion, but tearing it down is short-sighted. Maybe that’s why John Whitmire wears glasses.

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