November 8, 2013

Doom for the Dome?

On November 4, a referendum was turned down that would have allowed the city to borrow $217 million for renovations with a 53% vote against the referendum. Now the vote is left to the Commissions Court who has the last say in what is to happen to the Astrodome, however many believe that the defeat of the referendum has already sealed the dome's fate.

The Astrodome, the famed 8th world wonder, is a significant part of Houston's history and is currently one of Houston's few remaining historical landmarks. With Astroworld gone, the dome remains as a reminder of Houston's major innovations.

Prospective look at the upcoming stadium (before it was called the Astrodome)
When the Astrodome opened it was the prototype which many other domed stadiums would be modeled after. It was "the first fully air-conditioned, enclosed, domed, multipurpose sports stadium in the world," according to the Texas Historical Association. the first closed dome stadium, which allowed games to be played even during adverse weather. It was also the first air-conditioned stadium. It was also the first stadium to use synthetic turf.

The first football game ever played in the Astrodome, played between the University of Houston Cougars
and the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes on September 11, 1965.

Houstonian 1966 38-39
Coogs occupy the newly-built Astrodome

During the natural disaster with Hurricane Katrina, the citizens of New Orleans called the Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome home when their homes were flooded.

In recent years the dome has slowly become dilapidated due to neglect, and Houston officials and Houstonians alike have been debating what to do with the aging structure. Just recently a massive "yard sale" was held to sell off Astrodome memorabilia; for sale were seats, turnstiles, and square-foot tiles of the famous AstroTurf. More than 6,000 people showed up to take home a piece of Houston's history. This is the most activity the dome has seen in almost a decade. The city hoped that renewed interest in restoring the Astrodome will bring forth investors .

Band Day in the Astrodome
New stadium (Enron/Minute Maid Field) for the Astros approved
Last Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo held in the Astrodome in 2002.
Hurricane Katrina victims call the Astrodome and Reliant Stadium home in 2005. This
would be the last time the dome was used.

Alas, during this past mayoral election, voters turned down a referendum to authorize $217 million in funds to renovate the Astrodome with 53% against it, and now the dome is threatened with impending demolition. Now the final decision is left to the Commissions Court, who has the last say in what will happen to the dome.

You can find more photographs of the early days of the Astrodome in the University of Houston Campus Life collection and the Houstonian Yearbook collection.


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