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The End May Be Near for the Astrodome

The end appears to be near for the Houston Astrodome.

Voters in Houston rejected a plan on Tuesday that called for spending up to $217 million to convert the one-time “Eighth Wonder of the World” into a convention and events center.

A final decision hasn’t been made, but the vote is expected to doom the dome.

The Astrodome opened in 1965 as the first domed stadium anywhere, but since Major League Baseball and the National Football League moved out, it has been empty and pretty much run-down. It did house some Hurricane Katrina victims, but not much else.

It was officially the “Harris County Domed Stadium,” but nobody ever called it that.

It opened to all kinds of fanfare in 1965, with ushers and grounds crew members wearing these cheesy pseudo-space suits, but in those days it was really something, being so futuristic and all.

Plans called for a grass field, since the roof panes were clear and it was believed that grass would grow in the dome.

It did not, with the grass drying up and turning brown that first season, and the failure prompted the development by Monsanto of–you guessed it–Astroturf.

And let’s not forget the college basketball showdown back in 1968 between Elvin Hayes’ University of Houston Cougars and the UCLA Bruins, led by Lew Alcindor, as he was known in those days. Houston won that one, in front of an almost unimaginably large crowd, but UCLA later took the national championship.

Eventually the Astros tired of the place, and the Oilers were moved to Tennessee, so there it sat, all dilapidated and not futuristic-looking at all.

Now it waits for a final Harris County decision and then the wrecking ball.

But rest in peace, Astrodome. Sports fans will remember.

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