They don’t play baseball anymore. Heck, they don’t do anything there anymore. But the Astrodome turns 50 years-old today, and to celebrate it the place is going to be open to the public for the first time in a long time. It won’t be much of a tour — the building is falling apart as folks debate its future — but there will festivities in the plaza outside the park.
It was April 9th, 1965 when the Astros defeated the New York Yankees with a 2-1 victory, playing the first game in a domed stadium in baseball history. Three days later the first regular season game was held. In the decades after some history happened there. Some movies were filmed there. And, if you’re from Houston, a lot of memories were formed there as well.
At the time it opened the place was called the Eighth Wonder of the World. And it had some seriously awesome mid-century modern design flourishes going on which made it a pretty darn spiffy example of the space age aesthetic. But for all of the awe it inspired, it’s worth remembering that, unless they somehow hit that sweet spot where nostalgia and cash flow come together like Fenway and Wrigley, sports facilities have a shelf life. Eventually it went out of date and out of fashion and now it stands crumbling. More of an inspiration for other, hopefully more enduring domed facilities than an example of something wonderful in and of itself.
But it certainly — and quite literally — changed the game. And for that it’s worth celebrating its 50th birthday. Even if it’s not looking all that great for 50.
(Thanks to STex52 for the reminder)