When the Houston Astrodome opened its doors for the first time ever in 1965, it was the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was the first ever domed stadium in the world. Unfortunately, it has fallen into disrepair the past few years. Despite the fact that it is a historical landmark, the building could be demolished soon. Therefore, I look back on the history of this historical landmark. The concept for a domed stadium was developed as early as 1952. Former Houston mayor Roy Hofheinz wanted a new domed stadium after he got rained out at Houston Buffs minor league baseball games. He also wanted to bring MLB to Houston.
Sure enough, Houston was awarded a baseball franchise in time for the 1962 season, the Colt .45s. For their first three years of existence, they played in a temporary stadium, Colt Stadium. It would be taken down and rebuilt as a ballpark in Mexico.
The first game in the Astrodome took place on April 9, 1965, an exhibition game betwee the newly renamed Astros and the Yankees. The stadium was installed with natural grass, but it died when glass panels on the roof were painted white. It would be replaced with AstroTurf.
A rainout occurred there on June 15, 1976. The Astros were playing the Pirates that day. However, the umpires were unable to make it to the ballpark due to heavy flooding. The game was forfeited and made up in Pittsburgh in July. The two teams would afterwards eat dinner together on the field.
Major changes came in 1989, as more seating was added in the outfield and pedestrian ramps were added. The 1992 Republican National Convention was held there, and the Astros would accommodate that by taking a month long road trip.
The stadium was also home to the NFL’s Houston Oilers for some time, but moved to Tennessee after the 1996 NFL Season. The Astros also wanted a new ballpark after the Oilers left, and they got their Camden Yards in 2000 (Enron Field, then Astros Field, and finally Minute Maid Park). They played their final regular season game at the Dome on October 3, 1999, a game in which the Astros clinched the NL Central. The last game ever came 6 days later, as Houston lost to the Braves in Game 4 of the 1999 NLDS, and got eliminated from the postseason.
The Astrodome would host victims of Hurricane Katrina in Summer 2005, before they were moved to permanent housing in Houston. It has been closed to the public since 2008, and has been sitting out of the spotlight since then. I would convert the old building into a Houston Sports Museum, while keeping the exterior and roof intact. That’s a good way to give the building new use, but without tearing it all down.
The Astrodome’s glory may have been gone, but the building will never be forgotten, especially in the heart of Astros fans.