DONE WITH THE DOME?

It's back to square one for abandoned Astrodome money pit

Photo courtesy of City of Houston.

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

The other day, I drove past the Astrodome, expecting to see workers scurrying, getting the once "Eighth Wonder of the World" back on its feet, back in business. Wasn't the plan to raise the floor to ground level and build a parking garage with 1,400 spaces below?

Didn't the county commissioners approve $105 million for Phase 1 of returning the Astrodome to a useful, money-making building? Wasn't the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo onboard with the project?

The ghost Dome

However, current Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Court have brought everything to a screeching stop at the Astrodome. It's a ghost building again. Speaking on Houston Public Media, Hidalgo questioned if the $105 million plan "is fiscally responsible, that it will actually, with the funds committed to it, that it will actually get us to a point where the Astrodome is self-sustaining. What I'm discovering is that the 105 (million dollars) that was allocated is not enough to air condition the building. Is the current design enough for folks to actually want to rent it out?"Hidalgo is unclear about what to do with the Dome, and it's simply not a priority with her. She says she is concentrating more on issues like flood prevention and criminal justice reform. And certainly there is work to be done there.

Hidalgo's communications director, Kiran Khalid, put it more bluntly in Houstonia magazine, "This is really on the back burner for us at this juncture. Speculating on what will happen with the Astrodome, and when, is not at the top of mind for us."

Back to Square One

And with that, we are back to Square One on what to do with the Astrodome, with nothing being done and nobody, well, mostly nobody happy. This was after a decade of emotional, countywide wrangling what to do with the aging, forlorn and forgotten domed stadium — including suggestions like turning it into a convention and hotel center, and some rather out there ideas, like an indoor ski jumping attraction or movie studio.

I remember writing a column: My position was either do something with the Astrodome — or tear it down. Leaving it to rot was not acceptable. My dream solution would be to turn into a magnificent hotel and casino. Harris County and Houston would sit back and watch the money roll in, enough to fix every problem and pot hole five times over. But casino gambling is illegal in Texas. (That's so dumb and backward.)

The Dome deserves better

Built in 1965, the gleaming Astrodome, the world's first covered sports stadium, was Houston's logo and greatest accomplishment — until we put a man on the moon. Over the years, primary tenants like the Houston Oilers fled to Tennessee and the Houston Astros built a new home, Minute Maid Park. And we built a new football stadium and home for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo right next door to the Astrodome.

The new stadium, with every bell and whistle imaginable, only made the Astrodome look puny and old, an embarrassing, dingy public eyesore. In 2009, the Houston Fire Marshal declared the Astrodome unsafe for occupancy. He might as well slapped a "condemned" sign on the building.

In 2013, there was a vote whether to spend $217 million of public money to renovate the Astrodome, if not to its past glory, at least to modern usefulness. Many mistakenly considered the election a referendum on the Astrodome itself. Yes to fix it up, no to tear it down.

Ed to the rescue

The public spoke a resounding no, 53 to 47 percent. But Harris County Judge Ed Emmett was not willing to take no for an answer. Practically tying himself to the Dome as a human shield against the wrecking ball, Emmett was determined not to see the Dome demo'd on his watch.

Emmett insisted that his determination to keep the Dome standing was based on fiscal responsibility, not nostalgia or fear of being tagged "The man who lost the Dome."

Continue on CultureMap to find out if the Dome could be demolished.

Every-Thing Sports

Not all athletes are divas

lancemccullersjrfoundation.org

In today's information age, the news cycle is almost 24 hours. Sometimes, it can be a matter of minutes depending on what news drops, when it drops, who drops it, and how it's dropped. Houston was a prime example of this in early November 2017. The Astros had just clinched the World Series title in a thriller of a game seven from the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The hearts of Houston sports fans fell as the next day they learned Texans' star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson was to miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. I could hear a collective "Damn! Damn! Damn!" across the city and surrounding areas.

Most of the time, we hear about all bad stuff. Murders. Fires. Horrible accidents. Civil unrest. Athletes and the sports world are no different. Often times, you'll hear about injuries and run-ins with the law or other ill-timed/ill-fated incidents. The Antonio Browns of the sporting world will garner the most attention with their diva-esque antics and attitudes. However, there are other athletes out there that are doing some good that should be celebrated. Let's take a look at some of the ones who should be celebrated:

Lance McCullers Jr.

I'm not a pet person. Working my full time job for 16 years in the cleaning industry, I've seen what pets can do and how much they can cost you. However, I have a serious soft spot for my wife and kids. So when they wanted to adopt a dog say no to Max. He's a Chiweenie with a great personality and a penchant for FRAP-ing (Frequent Random Activity Period). McCullers has a heart for animals, especially dogs. Through his foundation, he helps match pets and families for adoption. McCullers has kept up his fight throughout his recovery from Tommy John surgery this season. He also walks the walk by being the owner of several dogs himself. He's the headline pic for this article if you didn't know.

Steph Curry

Steph Curry vs. James Harden. Getty Images.

I know how much grief Curry has caused Houston Rocket fans over the years and I get it. But with the recent story of him sponsoring the Howard University men's and women's golf program for the next six years is worthy of some praise. To put this in perspective: the golf program has been absent from the school for about 40 years. With his support, it has the chance to be the first Division I athletic program at the school's history. Not many athletes commit such a huge financial undertaking for a school they didn't attend. It took a chance meeting with a student who chose to forgo golf to attend the school to spark Curry's interest. He may be a Rocket killer, be he's a community builder.

LeBron James

Lakers LeBron James Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LeBron James is a polarizing figure in the world of sports. Some see the NBA great as a glory hog, others see him as a challenger to the GOAT crown in basketball. No matter which side of the argument you fall, you can't question his philanthropy. Whether it's the "I Promise" school he helped start, or the kids he's given college scholarships to, LeBron has made sure to give back to the community he grew up in Northeast Ohio. People can say what they want about him, but his philanthropy can never be questioned.

Chris Long

Getty Images

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Chris Long exemplifies that statement. For the 2017 season, Long donated his remaining game checks that season to helping kids in each of the cities he's played for in St. Luois, Boston, and Philly. He's been very outspoken on social justice issues and has won the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, as well as ESPN's Humanitarian Award earlier this year.

There's a ton of other athletes out there who should be lsited here as well. Alas, I don't have the time to name them all. If there are other athletes who you feel are anti-dumbass, anti-diva, and/or anti-foolishness who actually use their platform to help and/or support positive causes, please highlight them instead of giving some of the less-deserving thwe attention they so desperatley do not need. The Antonio Browns of thw world don't need anymore attention. Let's spotlight the positives instead of thwe tomfoolery.

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