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Remembering the Astrodome, the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'

In 1962, the year the Houston Colt .45s came into existence, Sun Belt baseball was a barely extant phenomenon in MLB. There were three teams in California, but teams were yet to arrive in Atlanta, Arlington, Miami, Phoenix or St. Petersburg. Playing in the stifling heat and humidity of Texas' Gulf Coast, Houston decided to do what no Major League franchise had done before: play indoors.

Breaking ground on January 3, 1962, the Astrodome was futuristic enough to befit the city's space industry and engendered a name change. Stadium employees were dressed as astronauts, the roof glowed with skylights and the mammoth structure was nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

There were some trials and tribulations at first regarding the playing surface -- it was originally thought that real grass could be grown inside thanks the skylights, but that experiment ended with the Astros playing the final weeks of the '65 season on green-painted dead grass and dirt. As a result AstroTurf was invented (and named for the team), ushering in an era of dominance for the substance that didn't abate until the '90s.

The Astros, of course, moved into a retractable-roof stadium in 2000, while the dome's other tenant, the Houston Oilers, had departed for Tennessee a few years prior. The Astrodome still stands, and it's unclear what the future holds for this pioneer of sports architecture.

-- Dan Wohl / MLB.com