If you bulid it: A tale of two stadiums

Scanning headlines this morning I couldn’t help but note the irony of two stories. Houston residents read that the Astrodome was no longer up to code and would not be usable for public events without about $3 million in repairs. Many people are distraught after seeing their beloved dome go from the enviable “eighth wonder of the world” to a building that fails to meet city code and sits waiting its fate. While the new Reliant Stadium next door prepares to host WrestleMania in April, the old Astrodome has been neglected and told that the rodeo that was one of the few events it had hosted will have to find a safer location.

Meanwhile, back a the Jones ranch, The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the exciting commercial district expected to pop up around the Cowboy’s new stadium in Arlington has yet to materialize. While the Pitt Grill and Days Inn remain just across the street, the City of Arlington had hoped that fans attending the 2011 Super Bowl would be within easy strolling distance of more elegant hotels, restaurants, and shopping. However, fine dining (including Red, Hot, & Blues–some of the best ribs on the planet) is not that far away along I-30.

The possibility that Jerry Jones may have over-promised and may be self serving comes as a shock to many. City planning around development like stadiums often seems more rooted in hope and prestige than pragmatic economic development. Even as Arlington hopes for the best for its new stadium Houston’s experience with the Astrodome is an unpleasent reminder that a stadium’s fame is fleeting and that after if build it, bills will come.


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