On the 20th April 1965, workers began painting skylight windows at the Houston Astrodome to limit glare from the sun.  The covered stadium, the first of its kind, was built in order to avoid the need to cancel sports fixture as a result of the hot, humid, and therefore often rainy Texas summer.

The stadium had cost nearly $32 million to build, and the painting of the skylights added another $20,000 dollars to the cost.  The paint job had been made necessary due to glare from the windows affecting the vision of baseball outfielders.  Painting the windows significantly improved the situation for the player, but in turn led to other problems for the Astrodome.

Primarily, the up-to 40% reduction in sunlight making its way inside the structure meant that all the specially-bred Bermuda grass used for the field died.  This was despite the owners originally believing that painting the windows might actually improve the growth of the grass, since it had been formulated to grow indoors.  Left with no grass, they resorted to a second paint job in which they painted the dirt floor green, until they installed artificial turf the following year.

That turf was called ChemGrass, a hardly inspiring name, so following the successful use of it in the 1966 baseball season at the Astrodome the company rebranded it.  And thus AstroTurf was born – an artificial grass that got its name from an indoor sports stadium.

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© Scott Allsop