With barely a peep from preservationists, another piece of Texas history was razed in mid-January as bulldozers unceremoniously demolished the prison rodeo arena in Huntsville.
The brick-and-concrete building, which hadn’t held a prison rodeo since 1986, had structural problems, and prison officials determined that repairs to the unsafe stands would be too costly. Representatives from the city offered to help pay for the repairs, but as with all similar entreaties involving the arena over the years, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state prison system, rebuffed the offer.
“They just weren’t interested,” said Jim Willett, director of the Texas Prison Museum and a former warden. The criminal justice department “just doesn’t want to be in the rodeo business.”
Jason Clark, a TDCJ public information officer said, “The decision was made to demolish the arena because it was in a deteriorated condition and was a safety hazard because of the public roadway that runs alongside of it.”
When demolition crews began