Dubbed the "Eight Wonder of the World", the Astrodome was home to
the Houston Astros for over three decades and was the
first dome stadium constructed.
Prior to Major League Baseball awarding Houston an expansion franchise a dome
stadium was already being planned by Judge Roy Hofheinz. He constructed a model of the dome stadium
and presented it to National League owners in 1960 in an effort to lure a MLB team to Houston. On October 17, 1960
Houston was awarded a franchise and voters approved an $18 million bond for construction.
Construction began on January 3, 1962 and the baseball franchise, the Houston Colts .45s began playing in April 1962
at Colt Stadium, adjacent to the new dome stadium
that was under construction. The Colt .45s played three seasons
at Colt Stadium before moving into their new home. Originally known as the Harris County Dome Stadium, it was renamed
the Astrodome as the Colt .45s were renamed the Astros.
The first baseball game played at the Astrodome occurred on
April 9, 1965, an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. Three days later on April 12, 1965 the
Astros played their official first game at the Astrodome against the
The stadium featured six levels of multi-colored seats that circled from the left field foul pole to homeplate and around to the right field foul
pole. The Astrodome was
one of the first stadiums to have luxury suites with
53 and each of the 42,217 seats in the Astrodome
were cushioned. Behind the pavilion seats in
centerfield was a $2 million, 474 foot long
scoreboard, homerun spectacular and display picture
board. The Astrodome also had five different
restaurants located throughout the stadium. Original
dimensions at the Astrodome were 340 ft. (left and
right), and 400 ft. (center). Not only was the Astrodome home to the Houston Astros, but to two football
teams: the Houston Oilers (NFL) and the University of Houston. In order for football to be played
at the Astrodome, two sets of 5,010 seats could be
moved to form a football gridiron.
The actual dome was 18
stories above the playing field and consisted of "Lucite" skylights
that were planned to allow the natural grass playing field to stay
alive. However, these translucent panels presented a problem. During
afternoon games outfielders were blinded by the sunlight. Thirty
percent of the panels were coated with paint to reduce the problem
but that caused another problem. The natural grass playing field
died due to the lack of sunlight A new type of turf
that became famous at stadiums throughout the country during the
1970s was developed. Named after the team, Astroturf was a green
surface of nylon grass.
Over the next two decades the Astrodome changed little. In Fall 1989, due to demands from the
Houston Oilers the capacity of the stadium increased to 54,816 as the
grandstands were extended into the outfield, now circling the playing field. The original scoreboard was replaced by
new video boards in the upper deck. Two manual scoreboards were added as part of the outfield walls in both left and right fields.
By the mid 1990s, both the Astros and Oilers began to want new
stadiums built. After failing to receive funding for a new stadium, the Oilers
moved to Tennessee after the 1996 NFL season. However, funding was
approved for a new Astros ballpark in downtown Houston. The
Astros played three more season at the Astrodome, playing their
final game on October 9, 1999. In 2000 they moved into
Minute Maid Park. Today, the Astrodome
remains virtually idle as it sits in the shadow of the Houston
Texans (NFL) home,
Reliant Stadium. In June 2010, officials unveiled a $1.35
billion plan to renovate the Astrodome and convert it into a convention
and science center.
The property would feature a science
center, a planetarium, several museums and a conference center. In
November 2013 Houston voters rejected a $213 million referendum
to renovate the Astrodome, likely leading to its demolition.