The world’s first domed stadium has received the protection of the Texas Historical Commission with its designation as a State Antiquities Landmark. This puts the Astrodome in the same category as the Alamo, the State Capitol, and the Cotton Bowl.
The designation as an historical landmark comes as the city of Houston plays host to Super Bowl LI. The Super Bowl will be held in NRG Stadium, the replacement facility that succeeded the Astrodome, the Houston Chronicle reported. The two enclosed stadiums both sit in the same lot in the city’s south side.
The Astrodome is owned by the taxpayers of Harris County. The county’s chief executive officer, County Judge Ed Emmett, has long been a fan of saving the facility and finding a way to renovate the facility for commercial use. In March 2014, Breitbart Texas reported Emmett calling the Astrodome’s renovation a “priority” for the county.
Emmett listed the county’s priorities at the time as, “finding a solution for the fate of the Astrodome; fully developing a pilot program to divert individuals with mental health issues from the county jail; using the expansion of the TranStar facility to make Harris County’s Office of Emergency Management even more effective; and creating a clear plan for a regional, multi-modal transportation system that will allow our county and region to live up to its potential as the Gateway of North America.”
The move to designate the Astrodome as a landmark came as crowds prepare to pack the city in celebration of the Super Bowl. For the first time in many years, the Astrodome will be lit up like its much younger sibling, NRG Stadium, USAToday reported.
“Name another building other than the Alamo in Texas that needs to be preserved,” Ed Emmett told reporters. “It is what our area is known for. Just like the Eiffel Tower was supposed to be temporary but lived on, I think we need to keep the dome.”
Emmett said the stadium changed the world of sports and entertainment when it opened 52 years ago. “Aside from being the first indoor stadium, it is an iconic structure,” Emmett explained. “The Astrodome literally changed the world of sports and entertainment and it helped put Houston and Harris County on the global scene.”
Texas Historical Commission Executive Director Mark Wolfe seconded the county judge’s sentiments. “The Astrodome is not just an important part of Houston’s cultural history,” he told the local newspaper. “Architecturally, it is one of the most significant sports and entertainment venues in history, setting the standard for modern facilities around the world.”
Breitbart Texas reached out to Judge Emmett for additional comments. A response from the judge was not immediately available.