Take a tour of the Astrodome

A look inside the Astrodome in March 2013.

March 21, 2013 3:47:01 PM PDT
The Astrodome's future has been up in the air for years. The aging facility could be imploded or renovated. Either option will cost millions of dollars.

The Houston Rodeo and the Texans released a new study this week suggesting the aging dream dome could be imploded for $29 million, which they say is cheaper than any other option.

On Thursday, we got a look inside. These days it's part storage shed, part dust bin; but it's really stuck in time.

It's stood in Houston since 1964, but time isn't always kind. And it certainly hasn't stood still in the decade the dome's been empty.

Coming into the dome, it's dark and smells musty. Not awful.

I don't hear the echoes of memory here. I'm not a Houstonian. I am now, but I never came to the Astrodome as a kid. Houston sports radio legend Ralph Cooper did back in April of 1965.

He cut class as a 14-year-old at Worthing High School and came down for an Astros game. He'd love to see it saved.

"It's sad. It's sad that we as a city let this happen," said Cooper when we asked him what it's like to walk into the dome now.

The old locker rooms are dark. The once state-of-the-art Astroturf is now a crumpled mess. Seats are torn. Ceilings filthy. In places, the dome is falling apart.

"Horrible. Mold. Horrible. That's what I am talking about," Cooper said.

The dome costs at least $1 million a year just to pay the bills and keep it from falling down. There hasn't been a plan for the place in years; certainly not the money. Now there's pressure to blow it up for a new lowered price.

It's not what all of Houston wants, but this -- a dusty dream of what once was -- isn't either.

"It's a dump. It's deteriorated. It will take a lot of money to fix it up if they could do it," said Cooper.

The team leading the tour was the agency in charge of the dome. They wouldn't commit to a date on when a decision needs to be made, but the Astrodome isn't getting any better. The best they'll say it has to be done by 2017, which is the year Houston may get another Super Bowl.

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