Abandoned Astrodome: The Decline of the Sports Stadium Known as The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

The Houston Astrodome was the first of its kind: a top-of-the-line sports arena and the first one in the world to include a dome. Sixty years after it first opened, the historic Astrodome lies abandoned and its fate remains in limbo.

The Eighth Wonder of the World
In 1960, Major League Baseball expanded to Houston, Texas after the addition of the Houston Colt .45s (later renamed the Houston Astros). The only problem with having a Texas-based baseball team is the extreme heat and humidity of the summer months, which could get up to 97 degrees and put spectator attendance at risk.

MLB granted Houston the new team anyway, as long as they fulfilled their promise to build a covered stadium to protect players and fans from the oppressive weather. Ray Hofheinz, the owner of the new Houston baseball team, said the design of the Astrodome was inspired by the Roman colosseums he saw on a trip to Italy.
Then and Now: The Houston Astrodome in 2004 (L) and 2016 (R). (Left Photo Credit: Jet Lowe / Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain), (Right Photo Credit: Jonathan Haeber / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0)

HOUSTON – MAY 16: A general view of the Astrodome during a Houston Astros game on May 16, 1995 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bill Baptist/MLB via Getty Images)

A general view of the Astrodome during a Houston Astros game in 1995. (Photo Credit: Bill Baptist / MLB / Getty Images)
Building the stadium cost a whopping $35 million, over $300 million in today’s currency. It stands 18 stories tall and covers 9.5 acres (imagine nine and a half football fields!). The stadium could seat 66,000 spectators. It was completed in 1964, six months ahead of schedule and the first baseball game at the stadium was a sold-out match between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees. President Lyndon B. Johnson was in attendance along with 47,000 others who marveled at the futuristic-looking building, which the press dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

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