Why do people in Houston care so much about the Astrodome? In other cities, when new stadiums and arenas are built, the predecessors are imploded gleefully.
For me, the answer is personal. I was not born yet when the Astrodome was first built. I did not become a permanent resident of Houston until a little over a year ago. But the Astrodome moves me.
When I was 10, I lived in New Orleans. I didn’t know much about Houston, though we visited now and then. When my dad walked in to my room and told me to help pack for a weekend trip, I didn’t give it a second thought. Weekend vacation, I thought.
The problem was that it wasn’t a vacation. It was an evacuation. And I didn’t get to go back home for another four months. Hurricane Katrina had ravaged New Orleans. The city was left in shambles. There wasn’t a home for us to go back to.
Houston took us in. For those four months, I lived in an apartment in Sugar Land and went to school at Brazos Bend Elementary.
And Houston didn’t take in just us. It took in hundreds of thousands of other evacuees — including those who had no other options. Houston opened its doors to us all. And there was no greater symbol of that hospitality than the Astrodome, which served as a giant refugee shelter.
I don’t have any stories about games or concerts that I saw at the Astrodome. I can’t talk about the “good ol’ days.” But here’s what I do know. I know all the childhood friends I made during those four months. I know the memories created at the Brazos Bend playgrounds. I still know the layouts of all the swimming pools in those New Territory apartments. When I was 10 and didn’t have anywhere else to call home, I was able to live a normal life in Houston.
That’s what the Astrodome means to me.
That’s why I care about the Astrodome.