I've spent the last five days in Houston and San Antonio before coming to El Paso today. Both cities are hosting major sporting events soon with the Super Bowl in Houston this Sunday, and the NCAA Final Four in SA in April. Both will be played in fairly new stadiums that I was able to see up close.
Reliant Stadium is Houston is a palace. I never thought I'd say that about a football field, but it's true. I couldn't get inside obviously, but from the outside it is a spectacular piece of modern architecture. The retractable roof alone make it a gem. I remember the buzz about the Astrodome in the early 1970's. Reliant was built right next to the Astrodome, and makes it look like a high school gym.
My hotel in San Antonio was right across the street from the Alamo Dome, and I got a chance to explore this place a little bit better than Reliant. It is an impressive structure as well but lacks the flexibility of a retractable roof, so I doubt the folks in SA will see a football team there anytime soon, but the dome hosts an annual college bowl game and is on the regular rotation for the Final Four. It has a unique structure that puts it above the domes that I have seen in New Orleans, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Indianapolis.
As impressive as these sights were, it makes me realize what a shame it is that a city like Chicago doesn't have structure like it. The "new" Soldier Field is an old stadium that was given a spit polish, and the United Center is about three times smaller than the structures in Houston and San Antonio. Nothing against the folks in Detroit (next year's Super Bowl is at Ford Field, which I have heard is another great place) and San Antonio, but events like these should be in Chicago as well. For the money that it cost to build Soldier Field and the UC there could be a facility in Chicago that could host both events.
I'd give up the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks for it as well.