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 July 30, 2014

Written by Beth Wiedower, Project Manager

Our work to save the Houston Astrodome continues. 

Efforts to secure the support of the Texas Historical Commission for the Astrodome’s designation as a State Antiquities Landmark stalled when the Commission voted to “table” the nomination for consideration at a future meeting. 

While not approved, the tabling motion does offer protection for the structure in the interim, as State Antiquities Landmark requirements, including review and permitting of any work performed at the Dome site, are now in effect.

Please check back for the more information in the coming weeks. And in the mean time, express your support for saving and reusing the Astrodome.

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 July 25, 2014

Written by Beth Wiedower, Project Manager

Summer is here in Houston, and the heat has definitely turned up around the Astrodome

Earlier this month, we saw the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the NFL’s Houston Texans unveil yet another proposal to demolish the 8th Wonder of the World. But have no fear! Houstonians are rallying once again and urging Harris County Commissioners to save and reuse the iconic Dome.

In addition to this local outcry of support, the National Trust and the Our Astrodome Coalition are advocating to designate the Astrodome as a Texas State Antiquities Landmark, an important milestone in the path to protect the structure and set the stage for future reinvestment and reuse. 

Next week, National Trust staff, as well as our partners Preservation Houston and Houston Mod, will attend and present our case for protecting the Astrodome before the Texas Historical Commission in Alpine, Texas. As we prepare for this meeting, you can download a letter of support to the Texas Historical Commission from National Trust President Stephanie Meeks recommending approval of this important landmark designation. This letter will be presented to the Commission prior to their vote, which is expected on Thursday, July 31.

Please stay tuned here and on Facebook and Twitter for updates on this important designation. 

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.

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

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. 

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, , , , , Glenda Ireland on August 18, 2014
My father, Chester Brown, worked for American Bridge, the company that constructed the steel frame and ceiling for the Astrodome. I have attached pictures taken in about 1963 as the walls and ceiling began to be constructed. Dad's boom was long enough to lift the 2nd to most inner ring. His co-worker had the longer boom that lifted the last ring in place. I hope you enjoy these. I thought they would add to the history of the building of the dome. My dad worked in construction around the city from 1944 till about 1988. He was very proud to have worked on many amazing building in the city.
Shirley Virdon on July 16, 2014
We want to SAVE the Astrodome for all the others who have never seen it and had the privilege of watching baseball games there and those who know how very unique it was in 1965 when it opened. Please SAVE the Astrodome!!!
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

Campaign Overview

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