DEAR MR. MYERS: I know that this year’s Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons will be held at the new NRG Stadium in Houston. But whatever happened to the old Houston Astrodome?
ANSWER: The Astrodome was the first domed stadium to be built, and was dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened in 1965. It was closed to the public in 2009, but it would be almost impossible to demolish because it is considered both a state and national historic monument. Houston officials have a $105 million plan to renovate it instead.
Perhaps unfortunately, most other great football stadiums have not been able to dodge the wrecking ball. The Patriots’ venerable old facility, Foxboro Stadium, was demolished in 2002 and replaced by the 67,000-seat Gillette Stadium, where the Pats play today.
The multipurpose Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, former home of the Falcons, was demolished in 1997 and is now a parking lot. Its successor, Turner Field, hosted its last Atlanta Braves baseball game there in October, and is being converted into a football stadium for the Georgia State University Panthers.
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Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, often called “The World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum” because of the raucous fans of the now-departed Colts, was demolished in 2001 and today is home to a large YMCA complex.
The Colts relocated into what was then the brand-new Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis in 2004, but that stadium was demolished in 2008 and now serves as a parking lot for the nearby Lucas Oil Stadium, where the team plays today.
Veterans Stadium, the previous home of football’s Philadelphia Eagles and baseball’s Phillies, was torn down in 2004 and today provides parking for two adjacent, newer sports facilities.
Texas Stadium, home of the great Dallas Cowboys teams of the 1970s and ’80s, was demolished in 2010. City leaders hope to develop a mixed-use residential and commercial project on the 80-acre site.
Giants Stadium in New Jersey, nicknamed “The Meadowlands,” was torn down in 2010. It’s now a parking lot for MetLife Stadium, where both the New York Giants and the New York Jets play.
A Mafia hitman once said that the old Meadowlands facility was the final resting place of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, claiming his murdered corpse was placed under one of the stadium’s end zones and covered with tons of cement when it was under construction during the early 1970s.
REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: Though Hoffa’s body wasn’t found during the demolition of the old Giants Stadium, a deep kick that lands just in front of an end zone and then bounces out-of-bounds still is said to have gone into the “coffin corner.”
DEAR MR. MYERS: I saw a for-sale real estate ad for “10 acres of unimproved land.” What does this mean?
ANSWER: Unimproved land is a parcel or other area that doesn’t have any buildings on it. It’s usually a vacant lot or an uncultivated field, but sometimes can be a rugged forest or even the sand around a privately owned small lake or beach.
DEAR MR. MYERS: We bought our first home last year, and now we’re ready for a big tax refund because of all of our new deductions for mortgage interest, property taxes and the like. We have all the documentation to file the return today, but would waiting until April 15 reduce the chance that the Internal Revenue Service would audit us, because it will be flooded with last-minute filers?
ANSWER: Waiting to file at the last minute won’t reduce your chances of being audited. The IRS largely depends on powerful computers to flag questionable returns for a possible audit, and those machines started working 24/7 when the first returns started trickling in at the end of January.
By filing now, you’ll also help to avoid becoming a victim of the burgeoning number of tax-refund thieves who file bogus returns under a legitimate taxpayer’s name. Most of these scamsters file the fake returns early so the IRS will issue a refund check before the real taxpayer gets around to filing a legit return.
The problem is serious. According to the IRS, nearly 250,000 taxpayers reported that they were the victims of tax-related identity theft during the first nine months of last year. The Justice Department recently convicted a man and sent him to prison for more than 11 years for leading a group of thieves who filed more than 12,000 fraudulent federal income-tax returns, seeking refunds of more than $20 million.
Of course, filing early also would mean that you’d get your refund sooner rather than later. There’s no reason to let the IRS hang on to the money that you’re owed any longer than necessary.
David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.