On Tuesday, Houston voters shot down a plan to renovate the Houston Astrodome, once one of the world's architectural marvels. Opened in 1965, the Astrodome was the world's first domed stadium, and hosted some of the most notable sporting events of the 20th century. But voters have rejected a bond issue of up to $217 million to convert the Astrodome into a convention center, likely spelling the end of the line for the iconic facility.
Former Houston mayor Roy Hofheinz, leader of a group that helped bring baseball to Houston in 1960, claimed that he got the idea for the Astrodome while on a trip to Rome, where he learned that the Coliseum had once sported coverings to protect the populace from the sun. Both the facility and the local baseball team were named in honor of Houston's role in the then-burgeoning space program.
But like that space program, the Astrodome is a relic of a bygone era. Here are some of the most notable moments in the stadium's half-century history:
Heavyweight fights. The Astrodome hosted many heavyweight fights, back when boxing could fill domes, including this Muhammad Ali knockout of Cleveland Williams.
The Battle of the Sexes. In 1973, Bobby Riggs battled Billie Jean King in a nationally-hyped "Battle of the Sexes" that King won.
The 1989 NBA All-Star Game. Basketball occasionally visited the Astrodome, as with the 1989 All-Star Game where Karl Malone was named MVP.
The Houston Oilers. The legendary Oilers of Earl Campbell and Bum Phillips played in the Astrodome, reaching the playoffs in 12 seasons but never advancing past the conference finals.
The 1992 Republican National Convention. The Astrodome hosted the convention where the Republican party nominated George Bush and Dan Quayle for an ultimately unsuccessful re-election bid against Bill Clinton. Pat Buchanan's fiery "culture war" speech that drew sharp lines between Republicans and Democrats was credited (or blamed) with swinging many votes, and possibly the election, to Clinton.
The Houston Astros. The Astros reached the postseason in six seasons at the Astrodome, never advancing past the National League playoffs. It wasn't until the team moved to a baseball-only facility that it reached the World Series, in 2005. Mickey Mantle hit the first home run in the Astrodome during an initial exhibition series in 1965.
The final games. No professional team has played in the Astrodome since 1999. How long ago was that? Mark McGwire was still a hero. The final game played in the Astrodome came in a 1999 division series loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Shelter. The Astrodome's most recent notable use came in 2005, when it sheltered 16,000 people displaced after Hurricane Katrina.
Reliant Stadium. In 2002, the city constructed Reliant Stadium, a far larger facility, immediately adjacent to the Astrodome. The above photo shows Reliant's retractable roof damaged during Hurricane Ike in 2011.
Cinematic glory. For us, though, the Astrodome will always be the centerpiece of one of the greatest works of Western cinema: the site of the the big game in Bad News Bears 2: Breaking Training. Let them play!