A Brief History
On April 9, 1965, the Houston Astrodome hosted an exhibition baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros, the 1st indoor baseball game!
In Houston, Texas, the Harris County Domed Stadium, the original name for the Astrodome, was completed for the 1965 National League Baseball season.
The Houston major league team had been known as The Houston Colt .45’s, but the name was changed to reflect their new stadium, the first such indoor facility for baseball and football in the world. The ballgame was attended by President Lyndon Johnson and Governor John Connally as well as Houston’s mayor.
As the crowd watched in climate controlled comfort, the Astros beat the Yankees 2-1, with all time great Yankee Mickey Mantle getting the first hit and the first home run in the new stadium.
Unlike the synthetic turf we expect at any domed stadium today, the Astrodome was originally planned for a grass surface, but it was not to be. No matter how hard groundskeepers tried, they could not keep the grass growing and healthy. History and Headlines fact: The natural grass gave off moisture which resulted in rain indoors in the Astrodome!Another fact: That first season, the Astros played mostly on dirt that was painted green!
In 1966 the Astrodome was fitted with an artificial grass surface which became known as “Astroturf” and that name has become synonymous with artificial grass. Areas around the bases were left as bare dirt for players to slide into the base. Groundskeepers dressed as astronauts would vacuum the field during breaks!
The Astrodome was used as the home field for the Houston Oilers NFL football team and for many other events held in outdoor stadiums. In 1965, Judy Garland became the first singer to perform at the Astrodome, with the Supremes as her opening act!
Undergoing renovations over the years, the original domed stadium has held an audience of 42,000 to 54,000 fans for baseball, and 50,000 to 62,000 fans for football. The Astrodome even hosted the 1992 Republican National Convention, with the Astros obligingly taking a month long road trip to accommodate the convention.
Sadly, the Astrodome held its last NFL football game in 1996 and its last Major League baseball game in 1999. Although continued to be used for other entertainment purposes (such as motocross and rodeo), the stadium was closed completely in 2006. Attempts have been made to secure funding for renovations that would allow the Astrodome to host conventions and other events, but that has not yet come to pass.
Now that most new professional stadiums are built as indoor domed stadiums, the question we have is: Do you approve of domed stadiums or should baseball and football be played outdoors only?
For more information, please see…
Doherty, Craig A. and Katherine M. Doherty. The Houston Astrodome (Building America). Blackbirch Pr Inc, 1996.