Goodbye old friend, you were the playground of our childhood


Voters in Houston on Tuesday chose to give the death penalty to the state’s most beloved friend of sports.

The Astrodome.

Two years short of its 50th birthday, the venerable old site, which now sits in the parking lot of the new and improved Reliant Stadium, will not be spared by a 53 to 47 percent vote.

There had been hopes that the Astrodome could have been turned into a convention center, but the $217 million price tag was too much for Houston voters and it will likely be demolished.

It will cost from $30 to $80 million to raze it.

When it opened in 1965, the Astrodome was a technological marvel. It was promoted as the “8th Wonder of the World,” it was the first domed and air-conditioned stadium and became professional sports most famous facility.

The reason Astroturf is called Astroturf is because of the Astrodome, where it first appeared.

I remember walking on the field at the Astrodome when I was a kid and it was like walking on the surface of the moon. never felt anything like that before.

Once home to the Houston Oilers, the Dome hasn’t hosted a professional team since 1999, and has been closed to all events since 2009.

Bright and shiny Reliant Stadium was constructed next door.

It’s funny, but I think I went to the Astrodome more when I lived in Louisiana.

I just recently wrote about meeting my hero, Bob Gibson, in the Astrodome when he pitched against the Astros.

That is of course, one of the highlights of my life.

My dad, brother and I made a yearly pilgrimage to the Astrodome to catch a series during the summer.

We would stay at the White House Hotel across the street.

In addition, my little league team would have a raffle each year to raise money for a trip to the Astrodome to see a couple of games and mostly swim in the hotel swimming pool.

We all took our gloves in order to snag that elusive foul ball, but we never were able to chase one down.

Sitting there in our uniforms, they would of course put our names on the scoreboard and it didn’t get any better than that.

One year, our teammate Kevin Judice entered the pitch, hit and catch competition and actually won it.

When they put his name on the scoreboard, we went nuts.

My favorite memory of the Dome is when someone would hit a home run, the New Year’s Eve type light shoe that would go off near the scoreboard—the bucking bull, the cowboy firing off his pistols in the air.

I saw what I beleive was the last Bluebonnet Bowl there when Texas defeated Craig “Ironhead” Heyward and Pittsburgh.

The last time I was at the Astrodome was several years ago to watch a couple of state championship games.

I wasn’t present, but watched the UCLA-Houston basketball game in 1968 which pitted Lew Alcindor against Elvin Hayes. Also watched the battle of the sexes between Bille Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973.

Another one of our sports cathedrals is gone.

The “8th Wonder of the World” was a wonder to the Little League baseball player in me.

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2013-11-07 digital edition

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