Discover / The Astrodome
Save a National Treasure
REGION: South
LOCATION:
Houston, TX
TYPE: Building
Save the Dome
Built in 1964, the Astrodome was the world’s first indoor, air conditioned stadium. | Photo: Ed Schipul
Opportunity
Save and reuse the world’s first indoor, domed stadium – an iconic piece of 20th century Americana.

Overview

The Astrodome is threatened with neglect and demolition. The NFL Oilers left Houston in 1996, the MLB Astros relocated to Minute Maid Park in 2000, and a new NFL franchise, the Houston Texans, began their run in 2002 in the new Reliant Stadium, which is adjacent to the Astrodome. In 2006, the final tenant moved out of the Dome, leaving Houston's "lonely landmark" without a use. Citing code violations, the City of Houston shuttered the structure in 2008. It remains vacant today.

In June 2013, the National Trust named the Astrodome to its annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. That same month, the Harris County Sports and Convention Authority unveiled a proposal to renovate and redevelop the Dome into the world’s largest multipurpose events space. Dubbed the “New Dome Experience,” the plan sought to reinvent the Astrodome as the “front door to Reliant Stadium." By late summer, it was determined that the issue would go before voters on the November 5 ballot as Harris County Proposition 2 – a $217 million bond referendum.

Throughout the fall, the National Trust lead a coalition of preservation partners in a campaign to educate Harris County voters on Proposition 2. Unfortunately, the referendum was unsuccessful despite a close election in Harris County with over 112,000 voters expressing support for the county's plan to reuse the Dome.

Moving forward, the National Trust is working with Harris County Commissioners Court to identify alternative options for preserving and reusing this landmark.

National Significance

Constructed in 1964, the Astrodome was deemed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened in 1965. As the world’s first indoor, air conditioned domed stadium, the 18-story multipurpose structure set the bar for arena design and construction for decades to come. A year after opening, it showcased the first installation of an artificial playing surface, soon to be known as Astroturf.

The Dome hosted a variety of sports and entertainment activities in its 40-plus year run. MLB’s Houston Astros and the NFL’s Houston Oilers both claimed it as home field. It was the backdrop for the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match where Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs, as well as for Evel Knievel’s world-record-setting jump in 1971. Countless celebrities performed there, including Judy Garland, the Supremes, Elvis, Selena, and George Strait. It even witnessed major current events: The 1992 Republican Convention was held there, and thousands of evacuees from New Orleans took refuge under its roof after Hurricane Katrina.

With such a rich history, the Astrodome has been declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places both for its architectural and cultural significance.

Campaign Goals

  • Raise awareness of the national significance of the Astrodome.
  • Advocate for the reuse and preservation of the Dome.
  • Bring preservation expertise and resources to the reuse efforts.

Ways To Help

Contact Harris County Commissioners Court and urge them to save the Dome. 

Donate to our campaign to save the Astrodome.

Posted on March 20, 2014

Written by Jason Clement, Team Member

Our grassroots advocacy to save the Astrodome continues to gain momentum. Since the election last November, over 2,500 supporters have petitioned Harris County Commissioners Court to save the 8th Wonder. And people are paying attention!

Check out this great letter we received last week from Commissioner El Franco Lee, and if you haven't already, take a moment to add your name to the growing list of supporters who are calling on Harris County officials to save the Dome.

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Dear Astrodome Supporters,

I want to voice my appreciation for receiving hundreds of emails from Astrodome supporters. Also, I want to thank the National Trust for Historic Preservation for generating this campaign.

As you may know, voters in November rejected the proposal to spend public money to repurpose the Dome. Harris County officials will abide by that decision. The election, however, was not a referendum to tear down the historic structure.

The Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation – which manages and develops the Astrodomain/Reliant Park Complex – continues to look at ideas that do not require public funding to repurpose the Dome. I remain steadfast in my support of the Astrodome, which I still believe can be saved from demolition.

It’s also reassuring to know that hundreds of people are behind that effort. We will keep you posted on any developments.

Sincerely,

El Franco Lee

Precinct One Harris County Commissioner

*****************************************

Please check back often for additional updates on the Astrodome

Posted on January 31, 2014

Written by Jason Clement, Team Member

The Houston Astrodome is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the our country’s historic places worthy of preservation.

Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.

While this is a great development in our effort to save the 8th Wonder of the World, designation does not automatically protect against demolition. Instead, it triggers state and federal preservation laws that require government agencies to take into consideration the effect of their plans or projects on listed properties.

Please celebrate this milestone with us by contacting Harris County Commissioners Court and letting them know that you stand with the Dome. It only takes a minute.

Please check back often for additional updates on the Astrodome. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure. 

Posted on January 03, 2014

The National Trust’s work and the preservation effort to save the Astrodome are featured in an article in the Jan. 6, 2014 issue of ESPN the magazine. The piece highlights the historical importance of the landmark venue and how two national trends are contributing to the challenge of reuse of the Astrodome: a public distaste for late-modern architecture and the disposability of stadiums. Stories like this are a reminder of the Astrodome’s national importance and the importance of securing a vibrant, sustainable future for the Astrodome. We will continue our advocacy efforts in Houston and encourage Harris County residents to request that their local officials support preservation of the venue.

Please check back often for additional updates on the Astrodome. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure. 

Posted on December 17, 2013

Written by Jason Clement, Team Member

Save the DomeSo, what’s happening with the Astrodome?

That’s a question that has plagued Houstonians for years – if not decades – and today, we’re no closer to answering it. Here’s why.

Prior to Election Day, it was widely speculated that demolition would begin almost immediately if Harris County did not pass Proposition 2, a bond measure to turn the Dome into the world’s largest special events space. Fast forward to today, and we have a failed ballot initiative, but only the building’s non-historic features have come down. The intense “should it stay or should it go” chatter has quieted, and the Dome was noticeably absent from the agenda of the county’s last meeting.

It’s like someone turned off the stove, but left the pot.

Because the Astrodome is Harris County property, all eyes are on the judge and the county commissioners – the five elected officials who, sooner rather than later, will have to make the call. Since Election Day, this group has taken great care to consider the three most likely options: private development, a public-private partnership, or demolition.

In that time, they have not only expressed disappointment over low voter turnout, but that they still want to hear from people who want to save the Dome. Still.

That’s where we need your help. Please contact these Harris County officials today and let them know you support saving the Dome.

Even if you don’t live in Harris County, you can still show your support for this architectural marvel, the Eighth Wonder of the World. We’ve created an easy-to-use form where you can email the judge and commissioners, all with one click.

Saving places is never easy and rarely straightforward, but when you believe in something, you stay your course. And we believe in the Dome.

We hope you do, too.

Please check back often for additional updates on the Astrodome. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

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Brendan A. Cooney on October 15, 2013
I would like to find out what are the requirements to enter into your program "Saving Historic Places" I submitted an Astrodome Proposal to the Harris County Sports and Convention Corporation which at one point I believe it was approved. Although, the HCSCC decided for the Astrodome to have a different purpose, if their proposal does not pass, would you be interested in seeing my proposal and what it has to offer. Could you please let me know. Thank you, Brendan Cooney

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