Known as "The Eight Wonder of the World", the Astrodome has hosted
many sporting events for more than 40 years. Its history stretches
back to the mid 1950s, when a domed stadium was planned by Judge
Roy Hofheinz. Trying to attract major league team for the Houston
area, Hofheinz built a model of a domed stadium. The primary
purpose of building a stadium was to attract a professional
baseball team. By October 1960, Houston was awarded a MLB
franchise. Voters then approved a $18 million bond to build a
stadium and construction began January 3, 1962. The stadium would
be able to host numerous events from baseball to football to
Founded in 1960, the
Houston Oilers originally played at Jeppessen Stadium for five
seasons. The team then spent three seasons at Rice Stadium.
Originally known as the Harris County Domed Stadium, the stadium
opened in 1965. The Houston Astros (MLB) played the first game
ever at the Astrodome on April 12, 1965. Six levels of
multicolored seats circled three-fourths of the stadium. The
Astrodome became home of the University of Houston's football team
in 1965. It was one of the first stadiums to have luxury
suites with 53. Each of the 42,217 seats in the Astrodome were
cushioned. Behind the end zone was a $2 million 474 foot long
scoreboard and display picture board.
actual dome is 18 stories above the playing field, and consists of
"Lucite" skylights that originally allowed sunlight to help grow
the natural grass playing field. However, these translucent panels
presented a problem. During afternoon baseball games, outfielders
were blinded by the sunlight. Thirty percent of the panels were
coated with paint to reduce the problem. This led to the natural
grass dieing because enough sunlight was not reaching it. A new
type of turf named after the team, Astroturf was introduced after
the 1965 season.
Houston Oilers made their debut at the Astrodome on September 9,
1968. In order for football to be played at the Astrodome, two
sets of 5,000 seats could be moved to form a football gridiron.
The Astrodome retained the same look until 1989. In 1987 Oilers owner, Bud Adams,
threatened to move the team to Jacksonville but Houston officials
renovated the Astrodome adding 10,000 seats and additional luxury
suites. This expansion increased the seating capacity to over
60,000 for football.
Five tiers of seating now enclosed the playing field. The original
scoreboard was replaced by new video boards in
upper deck. By the mid 1990s, both tenants of the Astrodome, the
Oilers and Astros wanted new individual stadiums. Adams was not satisfied as he began
to lobby for a new dome stadium to be built in downtown Houston.
In 1993 Adams was willing to contribute $85 million to a stadium
but Houston officials and residents were not willing to fund a new
stadium. After failing to receive support for a stadium the Oilers
relocated to Nashville. The Oilers played their
last game at the Astrodome on December 21, 1996. The Astros played
two more seasons at the Astrodome before moving into Minute Maid
Park in downtown Houston. Today, the Astrodome continues to serve
as home to many events. In 2000, Houston was awarded an expansion
NFL franchise, the Houston Texans. They began playing at Reliant
Stadium in August 2002.