BAYTOWN, TX – At first glance, the Baytown Civic Center on the outskirts of Houston doesn’t seem to sport the 21st century look most other convention centers of today do. Most developers would slate the building for demolition. Locals call the 100,000 square foot glaring, multicolor structure an eyesore.
“An architectural blunder only Mike Brady himself could have designed,” says Baytown Mayor Kurt Walker.
Community leaders fiercly deny allegations that the center was once a toxic waste disposal site. Building inspectors say the dilapidated center barely clears most public safety standards, not including plumbing, gas, and electric wiring.
For the Islamic Society of Metropolitan Houston (ISMH), however, the building is a symbol of both accomplishment and pride.
“It’s all ours!” exclaimed Javed Khan, an area veterinarian who served one of the lead roles in the acquisition of the Baytown Civic Center.
“The ISMH has been keeping an eye on this place for 25 years. That’s longer than the organization’s existence!”
Last week the ISMH had closed the deal with the city of Baytown on purchasing the Civic Center for an estimated 3.1 million dollars.
Ibrahim Batball, who managed the funding for the purchase, was confident money was not an issue.
“Brothers would come up to me and ask, ‘Ibrahim, where the hell are you coming with this 3.1 million?’ I just smile and remind them of a particular basketball superstar in the area.”
When the Houston Muslim community collectively came up with one hundred thousand dollars, NBA Rocket’s center Hakeem Olajuwon generously donated the remaining 3 million.
“I just hope he never ever retires,” Batball stated nervously.
The ISMH points out the many benefits of owning their own venue for events such as Eid Salat, as well as other various conventions and mega bazaars.
“Now we can trash our own place,” says Javed Khan. “We can distribute fliers, and actually encourage people to throw them on the ground on their way out.”
Khan included having water fights in the wudu facility, a “Throw Your Baby’s Dirty Diaper Anywhere” day, as well as special car-blocking spaces in the parking lot.
The ISMH does, of course, have plans for renovation of the aged structure.
Plans for replacing the current fully-functional PA system with a defective one are currently underway.
The ISMH does not yet know when the center will be opened for use, but they assured the community that they will overlook many building maintenance issues to expedite the process.