Jef Rouner
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We Should Give Donald Trump the Astrodome

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Illustration: Shelby Hohl


I’m dead serious.


Houston has been struggling with what to do with the Eighth Wonder of the World ever since it went into retirement. Lots of ideas have been bandied about, but no one wants to pay for any of them, and as long as the Rodeo controls the parking situation, nothing will probably ever be done about it. The Dome costs nearly $200,000 a year to maintain, but knocking it down would cost $30 million. So here we are, watching a beloved monument rot, unwilling to re-purpose or level it, and the world spins along on its mad axis as always.


Let’s give it to Donald Trump, president-elect of these United States.


We’ll hand it over to him in exchange for dropping his anti-sanctuary city rhetoric and maybe easing up on his anti-NASA studying climate change nonsense. In return, he gets one massive temple for whatever the heck he wants to do with it. There is literally no way he won’t take that deal.


And to be clear, there’s nothing he can do with the Dome that would be worse than we’re already doing with it. He can paint the whole thing gold until it gleams like a Gatorade pee, and that would be more interesting. He can call it the Trump Bowl, and I would buy the T-shirt and the tacky ballcap.


Maybe he could create the world’s largest indoor golf course, surrounded on all sides by luxury apartments so millionaires could live and play without being bothered by humanity or the elements. That would be absolutely fine by me. I like knowing where all the rich jerks are hiding out in one place anyway. It will make the eventual Purge a much more streamlined affair.


Trump might actually be able to do something about the whole mess if we just let him have it and put a giant picture of his face on it. The man loves rallies so much he’s continuing to do them even though he has already won the presidency. Here’s as big a venue he could ever hope for. He could give weekly addresses to screaming fans, 140-character thought followed by unconnected 140-character thought until he has all the mindless adulation that he could ever need. That’s heaps more interesting than turning the Dome into a space museum. A real-time theater of the weird event is much more culturally significant.


Or maybe he’d finally get the job of demolishing it done. Since it seems that honest means won’t do the trick, I see no reason not to let a pathologically corrupt real estate man have his swing. Down goes the Dome, and in its place up goes Mar-a-Lago on the Bayou! It could be a safe space for every backwards idea a tycoon ever had, while still allowing them view the riff raff at the Rodeo and at music festivals across the freeway. Nothing makes money more fun than standing high in your ivory tower over the people who don’t have as much.


Odds are, though, if we gave it to him, he wouldn’t do jack squat with it. After a sign change or some other gaudy reminder that one of the biggest buildings in the world belonged to him, he’d probably just ease the monstrosity out to a roller rink or something. Eventually it would just return to its state as a pointless, large, expensive annoyance.


And that’s the best reason to give him the Dome. Let it stand as a monument to hubris, and as the perfect culmination of voters’ desires versus voters’ initiatives to open up their wallets and put their money where their mouths are. Every time I drive by the Dome lately, I think of Donald Trump. There’s the endless greed of professional sports that demand new and fancier stadiums, the stagnation of worth and will that lets something we say we all love fall into disuse, and the mindless anger that seems to be the new normal that keeps anything from ever being done.


That’s the Dome and the Donald all in a nutshell. They’re both faded potentials that are now eyesores we can’t fix or ignore. They should be very happy together, even if all Trump does is plant a golden throne in the middle and pretend that he’s been crowned king. At least someone would get some enjoyment out of it.


The Trump Dome, Houston. Think it over. Think about it really, really hard.