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To some, the Astrodome was more than just a stadium

Nov 6, 2013, 11:11 AM EDT

Image (1) astrodome.jpg for post 6763

Dinn Mann is the executive vice president for MLB’s advanced media. He’s also the grandson of Judge Roy Hofheinz, the driving force behind the effort to get an expansion baseball team in Houston and then, later, the man who build the Astrodome.

In the runup to yesterday’s failed effort to get taxpayers to fund a renovation of the place, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post spoke with Mann, who was hoping against hope that the Astrodome would be saved:

“People who aren’t from Houston don’t understand — probably can’t understand — that to us, this is more than just a stadium … this is our Golden Gate Bridge, our Empire State Building.”

A reminder that, to someone, every ballpark is a cathedral. Every ballpark is magical. To Mann, it was the Astrodome. To me it was Tiger Stadium. To someone, somewhere, it could even be Tropicana Field.

  1. hojo20 - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    I have never stepped foot in Texas, but I find it sad that the Astrodome will be demolished. A lot of childhood memories watching Astros & Oilers games on TV.

    • misterj167 - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:48 PM

      How can they destroy the the field once graced by the Bad News Bears?

  2. riverace19 - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    Destroy the 8th wonder of the world?

    • Old Gator - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      Houston does not believe in cheap sentiment.

  3. riverace19 - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    Earl Campbell should buy it and have some kick butt parties

  4. koufaxmitzvah - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Would you buy furniture from a store called Unpainted Hofheinz?

  5. sportbuff99 - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    I’d visited the Dome once in ’95 and took the tour and found it to be a neat place with lots of nostalgia and history. I’m disappointed in the vote’s outcome and wish there could be a way to raise funds privately. But what really gets me is that the Dome is part of FEMA’s emergency management shelter system for the potential of when hurricanes hit the area. With all of the money the federal government spends (some say wastes) on various programs, where’s the stipend for a building that suffered minimal damage during Hurricane Ike and housed Katrina victims years earlier? We saw the damage to the Superdome during Katrina and Reliant Stadium during Ike. Where’s the love for the Harris County Domed Stadium?

  6. chill1184 - Nov 6, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Is the Astrodome owned by the Houston government or the Harris county government? If so why not just try to sell it off?

    • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      Harris County Sports Authority, a semi-autonomous organization within the county. But in the end, decisions are made at the Harris County level.

      What would you sell it for? That’s what they have been wrestling with for years.

      • historiophiliac - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        My folks were at the opening too, stex. During the season, my mom used to get the company tickets from her work. When she changed jobs, she and my dad put a lot of thought into how losing access to those tickets would affect their entertainment budget and if a job change was worth it.

        It’s too bad it couldn’t become the Gaylord Astrodome or something. 😦

      • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        I was 13 when the Dome opened. I had never seen anything like it. Of course, neither had anyone else.

        I would not have recommended going until after they banned smoking. It used to get thick in there in the early days.

  7. vivabear - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Let them play!!!

  8. steelersnowand4ever - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    I was at the Dome in 1973, when the Braves played the Astros, and got to see Hank Aaron trying to break the Babe’s HR record. Sad to see it go.

  9. temporarilyexiled - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    To a Bay Area sportswriter, long ago, it was “the great, plastic pimple on the plains”.

    • eightyraw - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM

      You think for a quote to have legs it would at least make some sense. Houston isn’t even in the plains.

      • temporarilyexiled - Nov 7, 2013 at 6:55 AM

        Heard of alliteration?

        Honestly, I’m amazed – but I guess I shouldn’t be – at how ridiculously oversensitive folks seem to be over this.

        Sorry, but ugly domed stadiums for baseball were a travesty half a century ago – as they still are now.

        Granted, some of the newer ones, where the roof can open (when it doesn’t malfunction) are cool.

        But everyone, get over yourselves.

        Is it so crass to want baseball to be played – more or less – outdoors – on grass?

  10. stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    Typical Bay Area talk about anything that doesn’t happen to be Bay Area.

    • temporarilyexiled - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      True, but this quote dates back to before the Bay Area reached out and grabbed the snobbery title.

      Think of what it must’ve been like to have the Astrodome be a NEW feature on the landscape.

      It’s not exactly like AstroTurf makes you contemplate the finer things in life.

      • temporarilyexiled - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:16 PM

        I know, I know, how CAN I possibly be SO insensitive?

      • stex52 - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        If you ever went down and skidded on Astroturf while playing football, you had better not have been sensitive.

        Stuff would peel the skin right off.

  11. raysfan1 - Nov 6, 2013 at 12:57 PM

    Went to a few games at the Astrodome it’s last couple years as the Astros home. I enjoyed the nostalgia of it, and baseball is always great–but there were issues. The upper deck hung out over the lower enough that one would lose track of fly balls due to obstruction. Once my seat turned out to be next to a great big pillar, so I could not see the foul pole at the corner of left field. Still, if/when it is demolished, its history and the nostalgia of it will be missed.

    The Trop? I’ve never had a bad view there. However, it is not a pretty building, and I doubt it will be missed in a few decades, even by most of my fellow Rays fans.

  12. okwhitefalcon - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Was in the Dome twice, once as tike for a ‘Stros/Phillies game. Steve Carlton threw a complete game with 11 K’s and hit a bomb says my older brother. I have no recollection of that whatsoever unfortunately.

    The other as a 9th grader with 5 buddies spring break. We bailed on the tour of the Dome half way in, walked to our motel and tried to get in the strip joint motel adjacent.

    The bouncer denied us access but gave us a 6 pack of near beer for our persistence.

    • jwbiii - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      If anyone should come up and ask, “Where were you on the night on August 17, 1973?” you have the answer.

      • okwhitefalcon - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:58 PM


        Thank you for the link.

  13. natstowngreg - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    I was in Houston on work travel in late August of the Astros’ last season at the Astrodome. Wandered over from my nearby hotel room and got a decent seat behind the 1B dugout.

    My initial impression was the same as when I first saw the Alamo — it wasn’t as big as its legend. Must be a Texas thing. Of course, the actual field was below ground, as with numerous other stadia. Still, it was a little underwhelming.

    As a ballpark, it was dreary, even allowing for the fact that the Astrodome was at the end of its useful life. Probably, my reaction to being indoors for a ballgame. Not the most dreary ballpark I’ve seen; that honor goes to the Mistake by the Lake in Cleveland (where my father took me several times in the ’60s).

    Ken Caminiti hit a grand slam off the Mets’ Turk Wendell in the bottom of the 8th to break a tie. There were indoor fireworks. Bad idea.

    For me, the Astrodome’s legacy is very much mixed. As a baseball fan, its legacy is about indoor baseball, fake grass, garish scoreboards and indoor fireworks — things I can do without. As part of the generation that grew up on the Space Race and idolized the astronauts, its legacy is about being something futuristic and cool.

    It seems inevitable that the Astrodome will, eventually, be no more. Part of me says, good riddance. Part of me says, it’s a damn shame.

  14. joeflaccosunibrow - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    If anyone thinks the Trop is a cathedral, they are masochists.

  15. mogogo1 - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Sort of hate to see it go, but its fate had been sealed for quite a while. It has no purpose beyond what it was designed for. With the Texans and Astros both having homes, there’s nothing more to do with it.

  16. MyTeamsAllStink - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Never stepped foot inside the done but stood outside of it .I was more impressed just much larger Reliant Stadium was compared to the Astrodome.That being said it’s a shame it won’t be preserved and turned into something that can be used for entertainment such as concerts or convert the inside into retail or even condos!

  17. rockytony - Nov 6, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Having been on the original scoreboard crew with Bill Giles, I can only tell you that there will never be anything like this splendid edifice again. It drew world-wide attention and was a trailblazer for the new era od stadiums and animated scoreboards. In addition to Baseball it was the host of many other events like world class rodeo, Riggs-King tennis match; 2 Mohammed Ali fights and a Sugar Ray Leonard match; U of Housto versus UCLA classic upset and on and on. Though I now work in AT&T the current champ for Baseball stadiums, nothing will ever match the excitement and aura of the Astrodome. It will be missed by those of us who had the privilege of working there.

  18. Dogsweat - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    I remember all the World Series Championships that went through the Astrodome, along with the Oilers winning all those AFC Championships, and ending up in the Super Bowl.

    And the Bad News Bears winning the Little League World Series with Lupus and Tanner.


    • Dogsweat - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:56 PM

      To the poster “52”, you need to do a few things. Stop reporting posts, just because they are truthful.

      1. Take Viagra

      2. Come out of the closet

      You will be better person and let people have their opinions, instead of resorting to acting like a 7 year old and calling people names.

      When it comes to sports, Houston is loser city. And implode the Astrodome, because there is no history other than a Hollywood Movie of a championship.

      BTW The Oilers moved to Nashville, I guess the Dome was so wonderful and popular it caused the football team to move.

      Now shoo.

      • stex52 - Nov 7, 2013 at 5:50 PM

        I didn’t report your posts, little troll. Why bother.

        It’s almost too much of a bother to answer you.

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