The artificial turf made famous by Houston's Astrodome
The Astrodome used artificial turf, or AstroTurf, for the majority of its life as a sports arena. Three AstroTurf fields were installed over thirty years — in 1966, 1978, and 1988. After each field was taken up, sections were either given away or auctioned off to fans.
When the Astrodome opened in Houston in 1965 with natural grass turf, the roof was covered with clear Lucite panels, similar to a greenhouse’s. When Astros players began losing fly balls against the backdrop of steel girders and sunshine, the Dome’s ceiling was painted black. The lack of light killed the field’s grass. In 1966, the Astros turned to the Monsanto company’s new product, ChemGrass, an artificial playing surface. Due to limited supply of the new product, only the infield was installed before the Astros’s April home opener; the outfield was installed in early summer while the Astros were on an extended road trip. Its success inside the Dome led the company to rebrand its product as AstroTurf.
The Astrodome was built to host Houston’s two professional sports teams, baseball’s Astros and football’s Oilers. The two teams used the same turf, and it was repaired as needed. The Dome also held events ranging from concerts and conventions to rodeos and religious gatherings and was the location of the famed 1973 "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.
Courtesy Mike Acosta, Houston
Time Period: 1971 - Present
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