Can Astrodome Be Like Germany’s Top Domed Attraction?

Officials hope to visit Germany’s airship hangar that’s now an entertainment complex


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Inside Tropical Islands Dome
Inside Tropical Islands Dome, Bird’s-eye-view. Photo credit: Wikipedia


A glass ceiling was a prominent feature of the Astrodome when it was built 6 months ahead of schedule in 1965. It helped the Bermuda grass grow on the infield. But when players complained of the glare, the ceiling was painted white. It got rid of the glare, but it eventually killed the grass.

The world was then introduced to AstroTurf.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett wants to turn the Dome into the world’s largest indoor park and recreation area. He says there is such a place in Germany.

“I used to say that the Dome was the largest free-standing structure in the world. Well in fact, the building in Germany is maybe twice that size. It’s an old hangar that they’ve converted into something they call Tropical Island,” says Emmett.

Located about a half-hour’s drive south of Berlin, Tropical Islands Dome is a converted airship hangar that houses an indoor rainforest. It also has shops, restaurants, white sand beaches and the country’s highest water slide.

“The Urban Land Institute is coming in December,” says Emmett. “They’re bringing a panel down to interview 150-200 people, and so, they will present us then with their recommendations at the end of that week.”

The cost estimate has not been pinned down, but Emmett hopes to attract private investment.

He’d like to see a green space established, maybe in time for next year’s rodeo season.

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