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.