Chronological Tour: Stop 43

It Was the Eighth Wonder of the World

Outside the Astrodome, Aug-1993.

The world’s first domed stadium quickly became old-hat.

Quick Facts: Rating: 1 baseball
When it was first built, it was nicknamed “the Eighth Wonder of the World”. In one of the nation’s hottest cities, they had constructed a domed stadium capable of allowing spectators to enjoy baseball and football in 72°F (22°C) comfort. The Harris County Domed Stadium quickly became known as the Astrodome for its proximity to NASA’s control center and to an amusement park known as Astroworld.

The Houston Colt .45s, who had joined the National League in 1962, moved in and renamed themselves the Astros, joining in the spirit of the neighborhood. Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees hit the first home run there, in an exhibition game shortly before the 1965 season started. That season, the Astros actually played on grass, but they were unable to keep it fully irrigated and give it enough light; for 1966, an artificial surface was installed. The carpet was successful enough there that its name was changed to AstroTurf.

Unfortunately, the Astrodome begat a slew of imitations. A bunch of “cookie-cutter” parks went up, mostly around the National League, easily configurable for either baseball or football, with artificial turf. Eventually, too, the Kingdome rose in Seattle, where they were trying to protect against rainouts rather than heat, and the Minneapolis Metrodome was built as protection against cold and snow.

By the late 1990s, the Astros realized that the big dome had outlived its time. By opening day 2000, Enron Field, a new retractable-roof stadium along the lines of Bank One Ballpark and Safeco Field, was in place; like those two, it has a grass surface. The “Eighth Wonder”, home to such remarkable events as Mike Scott’s no-hitter clinching a division title in 1986, may soon be history. Its last football team previously vacated the premises for supposedly greener pastures in Tennessee, and the new NFL franchise that arrived in 2002 has its own new stadium. Voters rejected a 2013 proposal to remove most of the seating and convert the building to a massive convention hall; that means the facility will either be razed by a future developer or left to rot, a modern-day Roman ruin.

In August 2005, the Astrodome took on a new use. With thousands of families fleeing Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the building became a temporary home for about 20,000 people who would later be relocated to other sites within Texas.

Game # Date League Level Result
92 Sun 15-Aug-1993 National MLB Colorado 4, HOUSTON 3
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This page updated 11-Nov-2013