- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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It’s nothing more than an NFL symbol and memory now, the last game played there on Dec. 15, 1996.
Still, the potential demolition of the Houston Astrodome -- which looks like a small orbiter docked beside Reliant Stadium, the space station that replaced it -- would have a lot of meaning to a lot of people.
Per KRIV FOX in Houston:
“The Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo have presented to Harris County Commissioners a study prepared by two firms to determine the budget, scheduling and execution of decommissioning and demolishing the Reliant Astrodome.
“The study indicates that imploding the Astrodome and replacing the structure with a parking lot would cost $29,061,827.”
That’s just $6 or $7 million less than it cost to build America’s first domed stadium, which opened in 1965."
It’s where Elvin Bethea chased down pass-rushers, where Earl Campbell ran people over, where Bum Phillips roamed the sidelines where current Titans coach Mike Munchak played his entire career.
I covered the final season of NFL football in the building, when the Houston Oilers played in front of tiny crowds disgusted with the franchise for striking a deal to move to Nashville, Tenn. It was a dark and dingy place that was beyond outdated as stadium technology had advanced a great deal by then. And at that point we’d hardly imagined venues like Cowboys Stadium, Reliant Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium or Ford Field.
The Astros played baseball in the Astrodome through the 1999 season before the team moved into its new building downtown.
Pro football resurfaced in Houston after a five year hiatus, when the Texans took the field at Reliant Stadium in 2002.
I've never asked any players from the Astrodome generation much about their feelings for the place. I imagine some of them are sentimental about the games they played there. But that doesn't mean they don't think the place should be a parking lot. It was innovation and groundbreaking. It was not in the least bit charming.
Sure, no one's pined for it since football left there or ever confused it with Lambeau Field. But it's spot is secure in the history book of American sports.