Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: The Houston Astrodome ( Jets angle notated)

  1. #1

    The Houston Astrodome ( Jets angle notated)

    is one of our enduring family photos from youth baseball: my sister dutifully in attendance, my father in a tie, my mother with a confectionary meringue of a bouffant. She looks like Peggy from “Mad Men,” and she is holding neither peanuts nor Cracker Jack but a can of bug spray.
    Multimedia
    Slide Show
    Memorable Moments at the Astrodome
    Enlarge This Image
    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Reliant Stadium, home to the Houston Texans, will host the 2017 Super Bowl. More Photos »

    Then the Astrodome opened in 1965, and we took a couple of eager vacation trips to Houston from south Louisiana, where the temperature and humidity seemed surpassed only by the cholesterol count.

    We were excited and astonished to sit in air-conditioning to watch a baseball game, free of the need for any lotion, suntan or calamine. Finally, we could satisfy our itch for big-league ball without the itch of swarming mosquitoes.

    The Eighth Wonder of the World, as the Astrodome was nicknamed, with its 200-foot-tall roof and nine-acre footprint, became the most important, distinctive and influential stadium ever built in the United States.

    It gave us domed, all-purpose stadiums and artificial turf and expansive scoreboards. It gave us seminal respect for women’s sports when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs at tennis in 1973. It gave us the inventor of the end zone dance in 1969, Elmo Wright of the University of Houston. It gave us the first prime-time national television audience for a regular-season college basketball game, with the famed 1968 meeting between Houston and U.C.L.A.

    So it was despairing to hear that the vacant Astrodome might be torn down and its site paved over as Houston prepares to host the 2017 Super Bowl. Demolition would be a failure of civic imagination, a betrayal of Houston’s greatness as a city of swaggering ambition, of dreamers who dispensed with zoning laws and any restraint on possibility.

    A recent drive past the abandoned Astrodome at night revealed it to be unlit. It has been closed since 2008. The stadium was visible in silhouette, like a waning moon.

    In daylight, however, beneath the dust and neglect, the Astrodome’s silvery exterior continues to summon a city’s innovative past and futuristic promise. By contrast, Reliant Stadium next door is a dull football arena, designed with all the imagination of a hangar to park a blimp.

    James Glassman, a Houston preservationist, calls the Astrodome the city’s Eiffel Tower and the “physical manifestation of Houston’s soul.” New York could afford to tear down old Yankee Stadium, Glassman said, because the city had hundreds of other signature landmarks. Not Houston. Along with oil, NASA and the pioneering heart surgeons Michael E. DeBakey and Denton A. Cooley, the technological marvel of the Astrodome put a young, yearning city on the global map.

    “There was a confluence of space-age, Camelot-era optimism, and we were right there,” said Glassman, founder of the Web site Houstorian.org. “It really set us on the road for a go-go future.”

    Houston’s best ideas bring clever solutions to tricky problems. The weed whacker was invented there in 1971 by a dance instructor and developer named George Ballas. He got the idea from whirling brushes at a car wash. His prototype consisted of an edger and fishing wire threaded through a can of popcorn.

    The Astrodome was built to solve a vexing conundrum: How to bring major league baseball to a city where the temperature could match the league leaders in runs batted in?

    For our first family trip, my sister got new clothes, including a red vinyl hat that made her look like the world’s youngest hotel doorman.

    “Honey, I had to get a new outfit,” she said. “We were going to the big city.”

    On an August weekend in 1966, we saw Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale pitch for the Dodgers against the Astros. We marveled at the animated scoreboard that celebrated home runs with a snorting bull and a pistol-firing cowboy. We screamed along with the bugling rally cry of “Charge!” We brought home a pennant, a souvenir batting helmet, pens in the shape of baseball bats.

    We also saw something no child should, our father pushed aside by another man while chasing a batting-practice home run.

    “Y’all were so put out,” my mother said.

    The Astrodome was the brainchild of Roy Hofheinz, a Barnumesque former mayor of Houston and county judge. He kept a stadium apartment that featured a putting green, a shooting gallery, a puppet theater and a bowling alley. A tour guide once described the décor to Sports Illustrated as “early whorehouse.” In Hofheinz’s view, invention was nothing without flamboyance.

    Mickey Mantle hit the first home run at the Astrodome in an exhibition game, causing the scoreboard to flash “Tilt.” Judy Garland, the Supremes, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson played concerts there. Muhammad Ali retained his heavyweight title. Evel Knievel jumped 13 cars on his motorcycle.

    The Republicans nominated President George H. W. Bush for re-election there in 1992. Robert Altman directed a movie called “Brewster McCloud” in the Astrodome. In 1986, the Mets and the Astros played 16 marathon innings in what was then the longest postseason baseball game. In 2005, a magnanimous civic gesture provided shelter for thousands of evacuees after Hurricane Katrina.

    What happens next for the Astrodome is anyone’s guess. As Houston sought the 2017 Super Bowl, Roger Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner, did not call for the wrecking ball. But he said in March that additional parking for nearby Reliant Stadium could be “a very positive change” in Houston’s bid.

    The game was awarded to Houston last week. The Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo say the Astrodome could be imploded and replaced with 1,600 parking spaces for $29 million. Other officials say demolition would cost more than twice that much.

    What a dreary possibility, a stadium that hinted of the Jetsons bulldozed for a Super Bowl that may or may not feature the Jets.

    Demolition “would symbolize that we’ve just decided to quit,” said Ryan Slattery, whose master’s thesis in architecture at the University of Houston offers a different alternative.

    Slattery’s plan, which has gained traction, involves a vision of green space. He would strip the Astrodome to its steel skeleton, evoking the Eiffel Tower of sport, and install a park. It could be used for football tailgating, livestock exhibitions, recreational sports. Other ideas have been floated through the years, some more realistic than others: music pavilion, casino, movie studio, hotel, museum, shopping mall, indoor ski resort, amusement park.

    All private proposals for the Astrodome are due by June 10 to the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation, which oversees the stadium.

    Legitimate debate can be had about whether the Astrodome’s innovations ultimately enhanced or detracted from the broader sporting experience. Whether indoor stadiums lend sterility. Whether artificial turf leaves players more vulnerable to injury. Whether we need scoreboards to tell us to cheer. Whether basketball played in giant arenas is an abomination.

    But the Astrodome is too essential to become a parking lot. Slattery is right when he says that Houston should not demolish the memory of its past but reimagine it for the future.

  2. #2
    Nice article - but the Jets angle is just a play on words. Doesn't really have anything to do with the Jets.

  3. #3
    Board Moderator
    Jets Insider VIP
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Posts
    5,569
    I didn't know they never tore down the Astrodome. Interesting.

    I wish they'd leave up some of the more iconic sports arenas instead of just tearing down and replacing them.

  4. #4
    Hall Of Fame
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    20,137
    Quote Originally Posted by Bonhomme Richard View Post
    I didn't know they never tore down the Astrodome. Interesting.

    I wish they'd leave up some of the more iconic sports arenas instead of just tearing down and replacing them.
    Yankee Stadium should have never been torn down. I went to every home playoff game in 2009 and every time I walked by the skeleton of the old stadium I got upset thinking about it.

    I understand that some of the news stadiums are built in the existing parking lots of the old stadiums so it is necessary to knock them down. And financially it makes no sense to keep two buildings but some of these places are national landmarks.

  5. #5
    Jets Insider VIP
    Charter JI Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Location
    Naples FL
    Posts
    43,559
    Quote Originally Posted by Bonhomme Richard View Post
    I didn't know they never tore down the Astrodome. Interesting.

    I wish they'd leave up some of the more iconic sports arenas instead of just tearing down and replacing them.
    The problem is if you own the land already you have no choice but to either sell or rebuild on what you already have.. And if your in the NY/NJ area land there is through the roof cost wise..

  6. #6
    Jets Insider VIP
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    18,550
    Quote Originally Posted by DDNYjets View Post
    Yankee Stadium should have never been torn down. I went to every home playoff game in 2009 and every time I walked by the skeleton of the old stadium I got upset thinking about it.

    I understand that some of the news stadiums are built in the existing parking lots of the old stadiums so it is necessary to knock them down. And financially it makes no sense to keep two buildings but some of these places are national landmarks.
    Dude...Yankee stadium was torn down in 1974. You are referring to the replacement stadium. The REAL stadium, the house that RUTH built, is long gone.

    I have the entrance sign in my garage BTW.

  7. #7
    As a Houstonian, I'd love if they didn't tear it down. But, I understand that business is business. It'd just be a shame if it was.

  8. #8
    All Pro
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    In transit
    Posts
    6,169
    My Jet Astrodome moment is seeing my first Jets game there in 1984. We got there a few minutes late, Jets already up 10-0. Jets lost and as an 11 year old kid I got beer dumped on my head by drunk Oiler fans.

    Side note, first home Jets game was the next year, against the 85 Bears. Jets lost that one too.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Follow Us