Reliant Astrodome
The Astrodome, Eighth Wonder of the World, House of Pain[1]
Location 8400 Kirby Drive
Houston, Texas 77054
Broke ground January 3, 1962
Opened April 9, 1965
Closed December 21, 1996 (NFL)
October 9, 1999 (MLB)
2003 (rodeo)
2006 (official)
Owner Harris County, Texas
Operator Astrodome USA
Surface Grass (1965)
Painted Dirt (1965)
Astroturf (1966–present)
Construction cost $35 million USD
($244 million in 2020 dollars[2])
Architect Hermon Lloyd & W.B. Morgan
Wilson, Morris, Crain & Anderson
Structural engineer Walter P Moore
General Contractor H.A. Lott, Inc.[3]
Former names Harris County Domed Stadium (1965)
Houston Astrodome (1965–2000)
Tenants Houston Astros (MLB) (1965–1999)
Houston Oilers (AFL / NFL) (1968–1997)
Houston Cougars (NCAA) (1965–1997)
Houston Gamblers (USFL) (1984–1985)
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (1966–2003)
Houston Energy (WPFL) (2002–2006)
Houston Texans (WFL) (1974)
Houston Hurricane (North American Soccer League|NASL) (1978–1980)
Bluebonnet Bowl (NCAA) (1968–1984, 1987)
Houston Bowl (NCAA) (2000–2001)
Final Four (NCAA) (1971)
Wrestlemania X-Seven (WWF) (2001)
Capacity Baseball: 54,816
Football: 62,439
Professional Wrestling: 67,925
Field dimensions Original
Left field – 340 feet (104 m)
Left Center Field – 375 feet (114 m)
Center field – 406 feet (124 m)
Right Center Field – 375 feet (114 m)
Right field – 340 feet (104 m)
Backstop – 60.5 feet (18 m)

Left field – 325 feet (99 m)
Left Center Field – 375 feet (114 m)
Center field – 400 feet (122 m)
Right Center Field – 375 feet (114 m)
Right field – 325 feet (99 m)
Backstop – 52 feet (16 m)
File:Astrophoto of Astrodome.jpg

Reliant Astrodome, also known as the Houston Astrodome or simply the Astrodome, is the world's first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium, located in Houston, Texas, USA. The stadium is part of the Reliant Park complex. It opened in 1965 as Harris County Domed Stadium and was nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World".[4]



Major League Baseball expanded to Houston in 1960 when the National League agreed to add two teams. The Colt .45s (renamed the Houston Astros in 1965) were to begin play in 1962, along with their expansion brethren New York Mets. Roy Hofheinz, a former mayor of Houston, and his group were granted the franchise after they promised to build a covered stadium. It was thought a covered stadium was a must for a major-league team to be viable in Houston due to the area's subtropical climate and hot summers. Game-time temperatures are usually above 97 degrees in July and August, with high humidity, and a likelihood of rain. 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 velaria to shield spectators from the Roman sun.

The Astrodome was conceived by Hofheinz as early as 1952 when he and his daughter Dene were rained out once too often at Buffalo Stadium, home of Houston's minor league baseball affiliate, the Houston Buffs. Hofheinz abandoned his interest in the world's first air-conditioned shopping mall, The Galleria, and set his sights on bringing major league baseball to Houston.[5]

File:Bands in Astrodome.jpg

The Astrodome was later designed by architects Hermon Lloyd & W.B. Morgan, and Wislon, Morris, Crain and Anderson. Structural engineering and structural design was performed by Walter P Moore Engineers and Consultants of Houston. It was constructed by H.A. Lott, Inc. for Harris County, Texas. It stands 18 stories tall, covering 9½ acres. The dome is 710 feet (216.4 m) in diameter and the ceiling is 208 feet (63.4 m) above the playing surface, which itself sits 25 feet (7.6 m) below street level[citation needed].

The Dome was completed in November 1964, six months ahead of schedule[citation needed]. Many engineering changes were required during construction, including the modest flattening of the supposed "hemispherical roof" to cope with environmentally-induced structural deformation and the use of a new paving process called "lime stabilization" to cope with changes in the chemistry of the soil. The air conditioning system was designed by the Houston civil engineer Jack Boyd Buckley.

File:Astrodome (Houston) Skylights.jpg

The multi-purpose stadium, designed to facilitate both football and baseball, is nearly circular and uses movable lower seating areas. It also ushered in the era of other fully domed stadiums, such as the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, the now-demolished Kingdome in Seattle, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, and the now-demolished RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

Hofheinz had an opulent apartment in the Dome, which was removed when the facility was remodeled in 1988.[6]

Seating capacityEdit

The seating capacity for baseball has been as follows:

  • 42,217 (1965)
  • 46,000 (1966–1967)
  • 44,500 (1968–1974)
  • 45,101 (1975–1981)
  • 47,690 (1982–1989)
  • 54,816 (1990–present)

The seating capacity for football has been as follows:

  • 50,000 (1965–1983)
  • 50,495 (1984–1986)[7]
  • 50,594 (1987–1989)[8]
  • 62,439 (1990–1991)
  • 62,021 (1992–1994)[9]
  • 59,969 (1995–present)[10]

Initial opening and fielding surfaceEdit

When the Astrodome opened on April 9, 1965, Judy Garland and The Supremes performed on opening night to a capacity crowd.

Originally, the stadium's surface was a Tifway 419 Bermuda grass playing surface specifically bred for indoor use. The dome's ceiling contained numerous semitransparent panes made of Lucite. Players quickly complained that glare coming off of the panes made it hard for them to track fly balls. Two sections of panes were painted white, which solved the glare problem, but caused the grass to die from lack of sunlight.[11] For most of the 1965 season, the Astros played on green-painted dirt and dead grass.

The solution was to install a new type of artificial grass on the field, ChemGrass, which became known as AstroTurf. Because the supply of AstroTurf was still low, only a limited amount was available for the home opener on April 18, 1966. There was not enough for the entire outfield, but there was enough to cover the traditional grass portion of the infield. The outfield remained painted dirt until after the All-Star Break. The team was sent on an extended road trip before the break, and on July 19, 1966, the installation of the outfield portion of AstroTurf was completed. Groundskeepers dressed as astronauts kept the turf clean with vacuum cleaners between innings. The infield dirt remained in the traditional design, with a large dirt arc, similar to natural grass fields.

In 1971, the Astros installed an all-AstroTurf infield dirt, except for dirt cutouts around the bases. This "sliding pit" configuration was first introduced by Cincinnati with the opening of Riverfront Stadium on June 30, 1970. It was then installed in the new stadiums in Philadelphia in 1971, and Kansas City in 1973. The artificial turf fields of Pittsburgh and St. Louis were traditionally configured like the Astrodome, and would also change to sliding pits in the 1970s.

Throughout its history, the Astrodome was known as a pitcher's park. The power alleys were never shorter than 370 feet (110 m) from the plate; on at least two occasions they were as far as 390 feet (120 m). Over time, it gave up fewer home runs than any other park in the National League.[5] The Astrodome's reputation as a pitcher's park continued even in the mid-1980s, when the fences were moved in closer than the Metrodome, which was long reckoned as a hitter's park.

June 15, 1976 "The Rainout"Edit

Ironically—given the fact that it is an indoor stadium, even more so because a new roof was installed before the 1976 season—the Astrodome suffered a rainout on June 15, 1976. The Astros' scheduled baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was called when flooding in the Houston area prevented the umpires and most fans from reaching the stadium. Both teams had arrived early for practice, but the umpires were several hours late. At 5pm that day, with only a handful of fans on-hand and already several hours behind, the umpires and teams agreed to call the game off. Tables were brought onto the field and the teams ate dinner together.[12]

Although the Astros still had a home series with Pittsburgh in August, this game was made up in Pittsburgh in July.


The Houston Astrodome was well-renowned for a four-story scoreboard called the "Astrolite", composed of thousands of light bulbs that featured numerous animations. After every Astros home run, the scoreboard would feature a minute-long animated celebration of pistols, bulls, and fireworks. The scoreboard remained intact until 1988 when Astrodome part-time tenant Houston Oilers (now Tennessee Titans) owner Bud Adams suggested the removal of the scoreboard to accommodate capacity demands for football, baseball and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Harris County spent $67 million of public funds on renovations.[13] Approximately 15,000 new seats resembling the 1970s Rainbow Guts uniform pattern were installed to bring seating capacity to almost 60,000 for football. On September 5, 1988, a final celebration commemorating the scoreboard occurred prior to expansion renovations.


  • The Houston Astrodome was the opening event for the AMA Grand National Championship for 18 years, beginning in 1968.
  • The events held were Short Track and TT
  • The Astrodome also hosted an AMA Supercross event from 1974–2002. The first Astrodome Supercross winner was Jim Pomeroy.
  • The Houston Supercross event has been moved to Reliant Stadium.

Recent historyEdit

File:Astrodome interior 2004.jpg

In 1989, four cylindrical pedestrian ramp columns were constructed outside the Dome for accessibility. This enabled the Astrodome to comply with the later Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The 1992 Republican National Convention was held at the Astrodome in August of that year. The Astros accommodated the convention by taking a month-long road trip.

On August 19, 1995, a scheduled preseason game between the Oilers and the San Diego Chargers had to be canceled due to the dilapidated condition of the playing field. Oilers owner Adams demanded a new stadium, but the city of Houston refused to fund it. 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[citation needed]. The retractable-roofed Enron Field (now known as Minute Maid Park) opened for the 2000 season in downtown Houston.

One of the largest crowds in the Astrodome's history, more than 66,746 fans, came on Sunday, February 26, 1995, to see Tejano superstar Selena and her band Los Dinos perform for a sell-out crowd during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo[citation needed]. Selena y Los Dinos had performed two consecutive times before at the Astrodome, breaking previous attendance records each time. This was Selena's last televised concert before she was fatally shot on March 31, 1995 by her fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar. This would be the Astrodome's largest crowd until WWE's WrestleMania X-Seven was held at the Astrodome on April 1, 2001, establishing a new all-time and current record for the facility at 67,925 fans.

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. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo moved to the new venue in 2003, leaving the Astrodome without any major tenants. The last concert performed at the Astrodome was George Strait & the Ace in the Hole band[citation needed]. The stadium is currently called the "lonely landmark" by Houstonians[citation needed]. Since 2008 when the facility was cited with numerous code violations only maintenance workers and security guards are allowed to enter the Astrodome.[14] The city council has rejected demolition plans on environmental grounds, over concerns that demolition of the Dome might damage the dense development that today closely surrounds it[citation needed]. Being the world's first domed stadium, historic preservationists may also object to the landmark being demolished, although it is not included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Houston's plan to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games included renovating the Astrodome for use as a main stadium.[15] Houston became one of the USOC's bid finalists, but the organization chose New York City as its candidate city; the Games ultimately were awarded to London by the IOC.

The Astrodome was ranked 134th in the "America's Favorite Architecture" poll commissioned by the American Institute of Architects, that ranked the top 150 favorite architectural projects in America as of 2007.[16]

Plans to convert the Astrodome into a luxury hotel have also been rejected[citation needed]. A new proposal to convert the Astrodome into a movie production studio is currently under discussion.[17][18] All renovation plans must deal with the problem of occupancy code violations that have basically shuttered the facility for the near future.[19]

Teams and notable eventsEdit

Hurricane KatrinaEdit


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.[22] Overflow refugees were held in the surrounding Reliant Park complex. There was a full field hospital inside the Reliant Arena, which cared for the entire Katrina refugee community.

The entire Reliant Park complex was scheduled to be emptied of hurricane refugees by September 17, 2005. Originally the Astrodome was planned to be used to house refugees until December. However, the surrounding parking lots were needed for the first Houston Texans home game. Arrangements were made to help Katrina refugees find apartments both in Houston and elsewhere in the United States. By September 16, 2005 the last of the hurricane refugees 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 Katrina refugees were relocated to Arkansas due to Hurricane Rita[citation needed].


  1. "Browns put streak on line in Astrodome". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1988-11-08.,2385433. Retrieved 2010-03-03.
  2. Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  4. Barks, Joseph V. "Powering the (new and improved) 'Eighth Wonder of the World' ", Electrical Apparatus, November 2001. Retrieved 2007-01-16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Smith, Curt (2001). Storied Stadiums. New York City: Carroll & Graf. ISBN 0-7867-1187-6.
  6. Conniff, Richard Farewell To An Odd Dome Home Judge Hofheinz's private Astrodome quarters will soon be just a gaudy memory. Sports Illustrated March 14, 1988, Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  7. Bruce Nichols (April 10, 1985). "Prototype Astrodome Celebrates 20th Birthday". The Spokesman-Review.,4938802&dq=en.
  8. "Houston's Mistake". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 2, 1988.,428882&dq=en.
  9. Jerry Bonkowski (December 7, 1992). "Oilers Entertain Bears With Playoffs on Mind". USA Today.
  10. Al Carter (September 18, 1995). "Revamped Oilers Fall to Browns 14-7". The Dallas Morning News.
  11. Lowry, Phillip (2005). Green Cathedrals. New York City: Walker & Company. ISBN 0-8027-1562-1.
  13. Fowler, Ed (1997). Loser Takes All – Bud Adams, Bad Football, & Big Business. Longview Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-56352-432-5.
  14. "Astrodome Hit With Code Violations". Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  15. "Astrodome track-and-field proposal could give Houston a giant leg up". Retrieved 2007-06-13.[dead link]
  16. America's Favorite Architecture. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
  17. Could Dome become Movie Studio? Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  18. Group wants to convert Astrodome into sound stage, movie studio. Retrieved 2008-08-16.[dead link]
  19. Far below code dome costs $500,000 per year to maintain. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  20. "Mickey Mantle's NYC". Archived from the original on 2008-06-02. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  21. Houston Astros history – 1965 season.
  22. ESPN – Superdome evacuation disrupted after shots fired – ESPN.

External linksEdit

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Rice Stadium
Home of the
Houston Oilers

Succeeded by
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Preceded by
Colt Stadium
Home of the
Houston Astros

Succeeded by
Minute Maid Park
Preceded by
Rice Stadium
Home of the
Bluebonnet Bowl

Succeeded by
Rice Stadium
Preceded by
Cole Field House
Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

Succeeded by
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
Preceded by
Anaheim Stadium
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Host of the
MLB All-Star Game

Succeeded by
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
Preceded by
Chicago Stadium
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

Succeeded by
Miami Arena
Preceded by
Arrowhead Pond
Host of WrestleMania X-Seven
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Louisiana Superdome
Host of the
Republican National Convention

Succeeded by
San Diego Convention Center

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