1377 South Loop W
This Venue is a Favorite of
Billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World by Astrosí original owner, Judge Roy Hofheinz, the Astrodome was the first ballpark to have a roof over the playing field. It also boasted cushioned orange and red seats, 53 futuristic "Sky Boxes," and a $2-million scoreboard featuring home run extravaganzas, cartoons, and helpful instructions to fans. At first, the Astrodome had real grass. The first Astros game, an exhibition with the New York Yankees, demonstrated that the semitransparent cream-colored panels in the roof made fly balls too difficult to see. So, the ceiling tiles were painted, but the grass died. This led to the installation of plastic grass known as Astroturf. It was ready for Opening Day, 1966.
An 18-story building would fit inside its 710-foot diameter, its 9Ĺ acres of real estate, and its steel-beamed ceiling that rises 208 feet above the baseball diamond. The playing field is 25 feet below street level. To light up the field requires more electricity than is used by a city of 9,000 people, and the central air-conditioning has to circulate 2.5 million cubic feet of air a minute. The Astrodome was also the first stadium in the country to use separate Astroturfs for baseball and football, each housed in a storage pit in center field and rolled out on a cushion of air.
In the fall of 1989, a $60 million expansion project enlarged seating capacity in the Astrodome by extending the upper decks into the outfield and adding 66 new Sky Boxes on the Club Level. Two external pedestrian ramps were added to the structure. The floor, which had been dirt since the stadium first opened in 1965 was concreted and the Astroturf was replaced with a new Monsanto "Magic Carpet' system. The Astrodome scoreboard and home run spectacular were replaced by two Diamond Vision screens, a large matrix board, two auxiliary matrix boards and a game-in-progress board. Two manually operated, out-of-town scoreboards giving inning by inning scores of games in progress, were incorporated into the outfield wall in 1993.
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