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.
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.
- 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.
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