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The Astrodome is likely heading for demolition

Nov 6, 2013, 6:06 AM EDT

Image (1) Astrodome.jpg for post 6763

Houston voters rejected a referendum yesterday that would have authorized $217 million in bonds to turn the rusting and decaying Houston Astrodome into a convention center. Without the funds to renovate it, the Eighth Wonder of the World is likely headed for demolition.

And with its demolition — whenever that may be — a bit of baseball history will disappear as well. The Astrodome was the first indoor stadium in sports, opening in 1965. Mickey Mantle christened the place with its first home run. Its cavernous dimensions robbed others of many more home runs. Its scoreboard ushered in the jumbo-tron age. Its field bore witness to “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training” and the crowd chanting “Let Them Play!” and an epic playoff series between the Mets and Astros. The place was also home to the first rainout in indoor stadium history.

But history can only buy you so much time. Ask Tiger Stadium. Ask Yankee Stadium. As Old Comiskey Park. Ballparks have a shelf life and, absent either continuous or heroic renovation efforts while the place is still being used for baseball — see Fenway, Dodger Stadium and Wrigley — they will eventually fall into disrepair.

Even the futuristic ones.

  1. stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:22 AM

    Sad to see it happen, but I can’t argue with the result. I was there for Mickey’s homerun in 1965. I was there when Mike Scott pitched the no-hitter to go to the NLCS in 1986. I was also there for the last regular season game in the Dome.

    But the plans for renovation were expensive, and had a kind of “build it and they will come” air to them. Ballparks with much more baseball history have been torn down. So we tip a hat and move on.

    • paperlions - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:32 AM

      Sad. Maybe it could have been saved during a time with a healthier economy, or if private interests would step forward….it isn’t like there aren’t plenty of individuals in the Houston area for which $217M isn’t really all that much money to invest.

      • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        Probably not because they never really defined a sensible plan for how it would be used. Houston is somewhat under capacity for conventions when you consider it is the fourth largest city. But any plans had to deal with the constraints of the Dome itself and how it was built. Asbestos was okay back then, for one. Casino? Shopping Mall? Monstrous convention center? They all had to deal with what was available.

        And none of the plans was entirely convincing. Houston is not as conservative as the rest of Texas in many ways, but the voters were still not swayed.

      • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:39 AM

        Besides, Harris County has participated in the construction of stadiums for baseball, football, basketball and soccer over the last 15 years. I know that figured in.

    • Old Gator - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      I was there when Brewster McCloud smacked into the crossbeam. Awwwkkkk!

  2. josemartez - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Had no idea about the rainout and I love that the teams ate dinner together out on the field after that game was called.

  3. gbrim - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    Asking taxpayers to open their wallets for anything extra is getting harder and harder. Even school bond issues are not slam dunks anymore, so tax dollars for convention centers, etc. will happen far less often in the future. Owners looking to taxpayers for future stadiums or major stadium renovations will find the process very difficult, and many will fail—and other cities won’t be dangling goodies to lure them much anymore either.

  4. jm91rs - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    I’m shocked that it’s still standing after being used for almost nothing for so many years. The upkeep on it has to be so expensive, knocking it down is the only smart economic decision here.

    • umrguy42 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:20 AM

      IIRC, the problem was that knocking it down is pretty darned expensive as well, hence why they haven’t gone and done it yet. (Also – maybe they can’t just implode it due to the surroundings? I think they actually have to physically knock it down. Part of the price issues.)

      • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        Well let’s try again. I used the “H” word and got censored.

        It’s in a pretty open area. But it was built to take a lot of abuse. (Previously “h— for stout”). You have to remediate asbestos and remove a lot of internal supports before you could collapse it. And that roof presents some removal challenges. You don’t want it falling straight down.

        On the other hand, I think a lot of the high estimates involve taking out the really formidable concrete foundation. Just leave that in place and build around it or make a parking lot.

        It won’t be really cheap, but I think estimates are artificially high. And it costs 3 MM$ a year to keep it as is.

      • cackalackyank - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:48 PM

        Yes my understanding is implosion is off the table because of the distance to Reliant stadium is too close.

  5. Bob - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    This is very sad for me. My dad drove us and usually at least one set of grandparents to see a mediocre club in the ’70s, and yet that building and that team quickly became my favorites. I have so many fond childhood memories of that place. But I support the voters saying no. It’s their county.

    I blame Bud Adams. While he was a pioneer in the formation of the AFL, his insistence in having added football seating resulted in the destruction of the giant scoreboard in 1988. And a lot of the Dome’s character left when the scoreboard was torn down. All of that work was done, and then Adams moved the Oilers after the ’95 season. I won’t say anymore about Adams because it’s not right to speak ill of the dead.

    I also blame Drayton McLane, and his threats to move the team in his greedy effort to secure a new stadium. Minute Maid Park is a nice stadium, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Astrodome, and MMP wasn’t worth losing the Astrodome.

  6. Chipmaker - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Has any major league baseball park been repurposed, ever? Maybe to football-exclusive, I suppose — that’s an enterprise well-served by a large, flat area surrounded by customer space.

    The Astrodome didn’t even hold on to the rodeo business for more than a few years.

    MLB has had a vast number of new parks since 1989. Let’s see what has happened with the predecessors.

    Exhibition Stadium (Blue Jays, vac. 1989) — demolished.
    Comiskey Park (White Sox, vac. 1990) — demolished.
    Memorial Stadium (Orioles, vacated 1991) — demolished.
    Arlington Stadium (Rangers, vac. 1993) — demolished.
    Municipal Stadium (Indians, vac. 1993) — demolished.
    Mile High Stadium (Rockies, vac. 1994) — demolished.
    Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (Braves, vac. 1996) — demolished.
    Kingdome (Mariners, vac. 1999) — demolished.
    Tiger Stadium (Tigers, vac. 1999) — demolished.
    County Stadium (Brewers, vac. 2000) — demolished.
    Three Rivers Stadium (Pirates, vac. 2000) — demolished.
    Riverfront Stadium (Reds, vac. 2002) — demolished.
    Veterans Stadium (Phillies, vac. 2003) — demolished.
    Busch Stadium II (Cardinals, vac. 2005) — demolished.
    Shea Stadium (Mets, vac. 2008) — demolished.
    Yankee Stadium (Evil Empire, vac. 2008) — demolished.
    Metrodome (Twins, vac. 2009) — scheduled for demolition 2014.

    Candlestick Park (Giants, vac. 1999) — in use, NFL football, but 49ers are in final season of tenancy and demolition is scheduled for soon after they vacate.

    Qualcomm Stadium (Padres, vac. 2003) — in use, NFL and college football.
    Stade Olympique (Expos, vac. 2004) — in use, special events, occasional football or soccer games.
    RFK Stadium (Nationals, vac. 2007) — in use, soccer, one college football bowl game.
    Sun Life Stadium & other aliases (Marlins, vac. 2011) — in use, NFL and college football.

    That’s 16 demolished, two more scheduled, and four more hanging on with football or soccer.

    The Astrodome holds a special place in baseball history and, clearly, for the city of Houston and fans of the building and the Astros. But there’s really nothing to be done with it.

    • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      An excellent summary of the issue, Chip.

  7. Dogsweat - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    Yes, The Astros won many World Series in that dome. There are so many special moments. The Astros were supreme in the dome. So where the Oilers- that is why they are Nashville.

    Oilers- 0 Super Bowl Trophies

    Astros- 0 World Series Trophies, and now degraded to the American League.

    The Astro Dome had such a spirit of Winning.

    My mistake, The Bad News Bears won a championship in the Astro Dome. Tanner, Lupis co MVP.

  8. Dogsweat - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    Good Bye A-Hole Dome.

    • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:39 PM

      Bye-bye troll. Don’t hurry back.

      • Dogsweat - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:47 PM

        Wow did you come up with Troll all by yourself? I have never heard that word before. Your amazing how genius of you to think of such of a word?

        The Truth always hurts. The A Hole Dome produced losers.

      • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:07 PM

        Natter on, little troll. Then wander back to your dimwit buddies in football land.

  9. jwbiii - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    While we’re talking about great movies filmed there, who can forget “The Swarm”?

  10. ken14andersonforhof - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    let the ILLEGAL BORDER JUMPING MEXICANS move in there on their way north.. they could probably fit 2 to 3 million in it and make G.”W” BUSH happy that his gardeners have a place to stay!!

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