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"The average age in Sun City, Arizona is deceased."
--Bob Uecker, on the retirement community and spring home of the Brewers

 

Astrodome

By Wikipedia

The Astrodome is a domed sports stadium, the first of its kind. It is located in Houston, Texas at 29.6849 N 95.408 W, and is now part of the Reliant Park complex. It opened in 1965 as Harris County Domed Stadium and was nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World". (A team owner is quoted as saying that the "rent for the Astrodome was the ninth".) Reliant Energy purchased naming rights to the building in 2000.

At a glance...
ASTRODOME
Facility statistics
Location 8400 Kirby Drive
Houston, Texas 77054
Broke ground January 3, 1962
Opened April 12, 1965
Closed December 21, 1996 (Oilers)
October 9, 1999 (Astros)
Demolished No
Replaced Colt Stadium
Replaced by Enron Field (Astros, 2000)
Owner Harris County
Operator Astrodome USA
Surface Tifway Bermuda Grass (1965)
AstroTurf (1966-)
Construction
cost
$35M
$60M (1989 renovation)
Architect Hermon Lloyd & W.B. Morgan and
Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson
Former names
Harris County Domed Stadium
Tenants
Houston Oilers (NFL, 19681997)
Houston Astros (MLB,1965-1999)
Houston Gamblers (USFL, 1984-1985)
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (1966-2003)
Hurricane Katrina Survivors (8/31/2005-9/17/2005)
Seating capacity
62,439 (Football)
42,217 (Baseball, 1965)
46,000 (Baseball, 1966)
44,500 (Baseball, 1968)
45,000 (Baseball, 1975)
47,690 (Baseball, 1982)
54,816 (Baseball, 1990)
Dimensions
Apex of Dome: 208 ft.
1965
Left Field - 340 ft
Left-Center - 375 ft
Center Field - 406 ft
Right-Center - 375 ft
Right Field - 340 ft
Backstop - 60.5 ft

1977:
Left Field - 340 ft
Left-Center - 390 ft
Center Field - 406 ft
Right-Center - 390 ft
Right Field - 340 ft
Backstop - 60.5 ft

1994:
Left Field - 325 ft
Left-Center - 375 ft
Center Field - 400 ft
Right-Center - 375 ft
Right Field - 325 ft
Backstop - 52 ft

Major League Baseball expanded to Houston in 1962 with the Houston Colt .45s, who were later renamed the Astros. Houston's unpredictable subtropical weather made outdoor baseball difficult for players and spectators alike. Several baseball franchises had toyed with the idea of building enclosed, air-conditioned stadiums. Houston mayor Roy Hofheinz claimed inspiration for what would eventually become the Astrodome when he was on a tour of Rome, where he learned that the builders of the ancient Colosseum installed giant velariums to shield spectators from the Roman sun.

When the Astrodome opened, it used a natural grass (Tifway 419 Bermuda Grass) playing surface. The dome's ceiling was made of clear plastic panes. Players quickly complained that glare coming off of the panes made it impossible for them to track fly balls, so all of the panes were painted over, which solved the glare problem but caused the grass to die from lack of sunlight. For a time, the Astros played on green-painted dirt. The permanent solution was to install a new type of artificial grass on the field, which became known as AstroTurf. This was done in time for the 1966 season.

Scoreboard

The Astrodome was well-known for a four-story-tall scoreboard, comprised of thousands of lightbulbs, that featured animations until its removal in the late 1980s. This loss was brought about by threats from Oilers owner Bud Adams to move his football team to Jacksonville, Florida unless stadium seating capacity was expanded. (Ironically, Jacksonville won an NFL expansion franchise in 1995.) The city buckled to his demands, and the scoreboard was removed and approximately 15,000 new seats installed to bring total capacity over 60,000. In 1989, four cylindrical columns were constructed outside the Dome.

Fly to the Astrodome!
If you have Google Earth installed, click here to be "flown" to the site of the Astrodome. (If you do not have it installed, get it from Google. It allows you to view virtually anywhere on Earth in 3D using satellite imagery.)

Recent History

The 1992 Republican National Convention was held at the Astrodome. The Astros accommodated the politicians by taking a month-long road trip.

The largest crowd in its history took place in 2001, when the WWE brought Wrestlemania X-Seven to the Astrodome. It attracted 67,925 fans.

The Astrodome began to show its age by the 1990s. Oilers owner Adams issued a new set of demands, this time for a completely new stadium, but the city of Houston refused to fund such a venture. After years of threats, Adams moved the team to Tennessee in 1996. Around that time the Astros also threatened to leave the city unless a new ballpark was built. Houstonians acquiesced this time, and the retractable-roofed Enron Field was erected in downtown Houston in 2000.

Astrodome!

Banners for the 1960 and '61 AFL Champion Houston Oilers and the '81 and '86 Western Division winning Houston Astros still fly in the Astrodome.

Photo by Ed Edahl.


FIRSTS at ASTRODOME
Game
04/12/1965 Phillies 2, Astros 0
Umpires Al Barlick, Augie Donatelli
  Stan Landes, Mel Steiner
Managers Lum Harris, Astros
  Gene Mauch, Phillies
Starting Pitchers Bob Bruce, Astros
  Chris Short, Phillies
Ceremonial Pitch 23 Mercury astronauts
Attendance 42,652
Batting
Batter Tony Taylor (double)
Hit Tony Taylor (double)
Run Ruben Amaro
RBI Dick Allen
Single Ruben Amaro
Double Tony Taylor
Triple Walt Bond (04/28/1965)
Home Run Dick Allen
Grand Slam Bob Aspromonte (08/26/1966)
IPHR Jim Ray Hart (05/23/1965)
Stolen Base Jimmy Wynn (04/23/1965)
Sacrifice Hit Chris Short
Sacrifice Fly Joe Gaines (04/23/1965)
Cycle Dave Kingman (04/16/1972)
Pitching
Win Chris Short
Loss Bob Bruce
Shutout Chris Short
Save Claude Raymond (04/28/1965)
Hit by Pitch Al McBean hit Ron Brand
(04/23/1965)
Wild Pitch Wilbur Wood (04/23/1965)
Balk Larry Dierker (06/15/1965)
No-Hitter Don Wilson (06/18/1967)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet
.

The Astrodome was joined by a new neighbor in 2002, the retractable-roofed Reliant Stadium, which was built to house Houston's new NFL franchise, the Houston Texans. When the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo moved to the new venue in 2003, the Astrodome was left without any major tenants. The historic facility now hosts occasional concerts and high school football games. Much talk among various civic planners has focused on converting the dome into a space-themed hotel and amusement park or as an additional convention center for the City of Houston.

The stadium is currently called the "lonely landmark" by Houstonians because hardly any well-known events take place there. Although some Houstonians want the Astrodome demolished by 2009 or 2010, and to be replaced by a large parking lot for the new Reliant Stadium, the Reliant Center and Reliant Arena (a mini-convention center), city council has rejected that plan for environmental reasons. They reasoned that the Astrodome is closely surrounded by hospitals, hotels, apartments, Reliant Stadium, the Reliant Center, Reliant Arena, a freeway, Six Flags theme park, and that demolition might damage some of them. On September 12, 2005, Six Flags Astroworld announced the park's closure.

Hurricane Katrina

On August 31, 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Harris County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the State of Louisiana came to an agreement to allow at least 25,000 evacuees from New Orleans, especially those that were sheltered in the Louisiana Superdome, to move to the Astrodome until they could return home. The evacuation began on September 1. All scheduled events for the final four months of 2005 at the Astrodome were cancelled. However, eventually officials declared that the Reliant Astrodome was full at 13,000 and could not accept additional hurricane evacuees from the disaster. Overflow evacuees were held in the surrounding Reliant Park complex including 3,000 at the Reliant Arena and 8,000 at the Reliant Center. No more evacuees were taken into the Astrodome. There was a full field hospital inside the Reliant Arena, which cares for the entire evacuee community.

The entire "Reliant City" (the Astrodome and surrounding athletic facilities) was scheduled to be emptied of evacuees by September 17, 2005. The Astrodome has no other current use, aside from a handful of conventions, and originally the Astrodome was planned to be used to house evacuees until December. However, the surrounding parking lots were needed for the first Houston Texans home game. Arrangements were made to help evacuees find apartments both in Houston and elsewhere in the United States. By September 16, 2005 the last of the evacuees living in the Astrodome had been moved out either to the neighboring Reliant Arena or to more permanent housing. As of September 20, 2005, the remaining evacuees were relocated to Arkansas due to Hurricane Rita.

Astrodome!

The Astrodome is converted to a shelter for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Photo by Andrea Booher.


Related books on the Astrodome:
The Houston Astrodome by Craig A. Doherty, Katherine M. Doherty and Nicole Bowman.

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
:
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.


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8TH WONDER

Astrodome from astronauts view!

USGS Photo

Year by Year statistics: for Astrodome


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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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