Houston Proud!

By Ralph Cooper
Updated: September 14, 2005

HOUSTON — That has been a slogan of the fourth largest city in the nation for a long time and I feel great about it after the effort by Houstonians to help people from New Orleans, Louisiana relocated here after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their city.

More than 18,000 Louisiana citizens were housed in private homes, area hotels and motels, church facilities, the Astrodome, Reliant Stadium, and the George R. Brown Convention Center.

The world was watching and Houston stepped up like the champion it has always been over the years. Houstonians showed love and concern to many people who came to Houston with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs.

In my travels over the years I’ve always enjoyed bragging about Houston and especially the Astrodome. Many people think NASA put Houston on trhe map. But the Astrodome, the Eighth Wonder of the World, may have played a bigger role in giving Houston a worldwide identity.

When Judge Roy Hofheinz, Robert Smith, and a host of others developed the idea to build the Astrodome in the early 1960s, no one had an idea how it would not only change the sports arena but the construction of new buildings around the world.

That was the impact of the Astrodome. Remember no sports stadium was covered and had air conditioning when the Astrodome was open in 1965. Today, you have domed and retractable stadiums not only in the USA, but around the world.

Muhammad Ali loved boxing in the Astrodome. He fought there four times. Don King got the idea of becoming a boxing promoter while attending Ali fights.Earl Campbell scored four times in a Monday Night Football game in the Astrodome.

Billie Jean King whipped Bobby Riggs in a tennis event in the Astrodome, which changed that sport forever. The University of Houston with Elvin Hayes played Kareem Abdul Jabbar and UCLA in a history changing college basketball game.

The Astrodome has always been reliable. Although some people want it torn down since Reliant Stadium was constructed, some of want it to stand. We would like to see it remodeled.How it was utilized to house the Louisiana storm victims is a great example of why it shouldn’t be destroyed.

Some people are asking what should be done with the building after the storm victims leave it. For months there has been talk of turning it into a hotel or chruch or casino. Personally, I don’t care what happens with it as long as it stands.

Some of the ancient coliseums built in Rome , Italy centuries ago are still standing. Sure some Romans probably wanted to destroy all of them but someone was wise enough to realize the buildings are part of history.

In San Antonio, Texas, the Alamo still stands. It is a shame. The Astrodome should be a shrine, a historical site. It should never be destroyed. Houstonians and Texans should take steps to keep it standing. It should be redeveloped and remodeled.

Again think what would have happened if the Astrodome had been destroyed before Hurricane Katrina? Where would the 18,000 Louisiana people have been housed? The Astrodome is not a piece of junk. It is a landmark. Go to Africa or Asia or Europe, and people will ask about the Astrodome.

Congratulations to all Houstonians who stood tall and showed some love in helping many fallen neighborhoods. Congressman Al Green, Mayor Bill White, Minister Robert Muhammad, Dr. I.V.Hillard, Pastor William Lawson, Judge Bob Eckels, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Zina Garrison, and many more stepped up and put together a great effort to help.

Others from all over the world also came to Houston to show some love like Oprah Winfrey, Montel Williams, Terrell Owens, Jamie Foxx, Vanessa Williams, and Serena Williams were a few. Local sports teams also stepped up like Bob McNair and his Houston Texans. The Houston Astros, Comets, and Rockets.

A special pat on the back to Kenny Smith, the former NBA basketball star now broadcaster. He put together an NBA All-Star basketball game featuring many of the top names in the game. Not only did the players participate but they paid to play. The proceeds from the game benefited storm victims.