Well, yet another proposal for the Astrodome has come and is almost certainly as doomed to failure as the ones that have come before. Look, there have been some good ideas all right. An indoor amusement park or alpine slope or even an indoor beach? Sounds sick. Space history museum or another sort of museum? Cool. Maybe the Offshore Technology Conference could use it for something. Why not?
Because as long as the Texans and the Rodeo hold complete control over the parking situations, absolutely nothing that will require mega parking is ever going to happen in the old Dome. That's why all these wonderful ideas keep going nowhere.
Well, when good ideas fail, it falls to me, the Houston Press's resident lunatic, to think outside the small closet they make me live in. How about some terrible ideas for the Astrodome like...
Giant Bouncy Castle Fact: Pretty much anything you do involving NRG Park is going to take all damned day when you factor in drive, parking and event duration. Second fact: Small children like organized activities that last all day about as much as they like letting you sleep past 7 a.m.. Final fact: Bouncy castles are cheap and can be removed for storage. Let's fill the floor of the Dome with a couple dozen inflatable castles and obstacle courses so parents can let their kids wear themselves out for a half-hour and then maybe they'll settle down and watch the circus or the game without fidgeting. We could get a little train to take them from NRG Park over to the InflastroDome.
Potitorium Look, legal weed is coming to coming very, very soon. I know it, you know it and the city knows it. Why not get a head start and try to corner the supply? Turn the Astrodome into a giant pot greenhouse. It already gets some natural light through the skylights and we can add growing bulbs. Space can be rented to private growers enabling an easy overlook from drug and custom officials, and there would be room left over for offices and maybe a Drug Crime Museum.
Refuge Center You remember Hurricane Katrina and how we got the name The Big Heart for housing the refugees from Louisiana in the Astrodome? Why don't we just assume that's going to happen again along the Gulf Coast sometime in the near future because it most totally is. We can set up the Dome as a permanent shelter for people fleeing Third Coast disasters, stocked with beds, medicines, canned food and rescue operation equipment. Instead of hastily scrambling to get ready for 150,000 displaced people, let's be ready now. Hell, we can probably even get FEMA to pay for some of it.
On a similar note...
World's Largest No-Kill Shelter Houston is absolutely full of abandoned animals, and the National Council on Pet Population estimates that we kill roughly 80,000 animals a year in shelters. No room, you see, because some of you shouldn't be allowed to own houseplants let alone puppies and kitties. Let's solve that space problem with the most massive dog park in the world. No more scattered groups doing their best, just one facility sharing resources.
Or... Maybe we could just let the 5,000 people that are homeless each night in Houston crash there since it's one of the few places you can take a bus and a train to. Just saying.
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Roller Derby Track Look, I love the Houston Roller Derby with all my heart, but they're never going to draw an audience that rivals the Texans or the Rodeo. You could drop every derby fan in Houston in NRG Park and they wouldn't make half a dint in the parking situation. There's room for a flat and a raised track in the dome, and hey, there's the added bonus of maybe finally having a Houston sports institution in there that actually wins most of its matches against other cities. Maybe they can summon the vengeful spirit of Bud Adams if they do it enough and we can put him in a big jar to laugh at.
Indoor Sixth Street What the No. 1 complaint of every single person involved in the Houston music scene? No district like Sixth Street in Austin. There's no zoning, so every bar owner and club owner in the city is always fighting with neighbors who like the rent they pay living behind a venue but not the noise. Allow people to buy space in the Dome to build a little music city. One price gets you in the door, and you can wander around this enclosed settlement of music venues. Plenty of parking beyond the bridge and adequate bathroom facilities already installed. Suggested name change: The Blastrodome!
Alligator Pit I have no idea what the use of this alligator pit would be, but I'm fairly certain that a giant artificial swamp filled with alligators would one day come in handy. As a deterrent if nothing else.
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Terrorist: Let us stage an attack in Houston.
More-Sensible Terrorist: I don't know...they've got that giant alligator pit.
Terrorist: Yeah, it might be a good idea to steer clear of those guys now that you mention it.
World's Longest Tire Swing No frills. Just that. One big tire swing suspended from the ceiling and anyone can come get in it. Call it an art installation commenting on the commercialization of fun if you want to.
The Astrodome: The TV Show Here's an idea I bet the Texans can get behind. We rip out all the regular seating in NRG Stadium and replace all of it with luxury boxes for big-money fans. Then we make everyone else sit in the Astrodome, where they pay to watch games live on a giant screen array set on the field.
Just kidding. If anyone ever actually suggests that it is your job as citizens to rise up en masse and consume them to absorb their power.