Posts Tagged ‘Astrodome’

The Astrodome – “The Eighth Wonder Of The World” – But Not For Long

November 4th, 2013

The Astrodome was the first multi-purpose, domed stadium in the country. Opened in 1965, it was home to the National League Houston Astros. The American Football League Oilers began play at the Astrodome in 1968 (the Oilers joined the National Football League in 1970).

Houston Astrodome From Fannin Street, Circa 2000

During its first year, the venue also was known as the Harris County Domed Stadium. The Astrodome replaced Houston Colt 45’s Stadium where the Astros played from 1962 to 1964. The Colt 45’s Stadium, which can be seen in the background of the postcard below, was demolished in 1970 and is now the Astrodome’s North Parking Lot.

Harris County Domed Stadium - Soon to be Renamed the Astrodome - With Houston Colt 45 Stadium in Background (Postcard publisher not specified)

Called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it was built, the Astrodome was the first major league baseball stadium with air conditioning.

Houston Astrodome From Third Base side Looking Toward Home Plate, Astrodome, Circa 2000, Southern Baptist Leadership Conference

The dome spans 642 feet. With retractable seats, the Astrodome held 45,000 spectators for baseball and 54,000 for football.

Houston Astrodome Left and Center Field Circa 2000

The Astrodome’s roof is 208 feet high, which is approximately 18 stories in height. The roof has 4,596 Lucite skylights that originally were designed to allow grass to grow inside the stadium.

Houston Astrodome Skylights

However, that grand experiment soon came to an end. The Astrodome’s skylights caused players to lose sight of fly balls so the panels were painted, which ultimately contributed to grass no longer being able to grow inside the stadium.

The Houston Astrodome: "Beautiful Astro Turf covers the baseball playing field" (Postcard - Astrocard Company)

In 1966, a newly developed artificial grass known as ChemGrass was installed in the Astrodome. That product soon became known as Astroturf.

The Houston Astrodome at Twilight (Postcard - Astrocard Company)

The Oilers departed the Astrodome – and Houston – after the 1997 season. The Astros left the Astrodome after the 1999 season, moving eight miles northeast to a new ballpark, known now as Minute Maid Park.

Enron Field - Now Minute Maid Park - the Home of the Houston Astros

Soon after the Astros vacated the Astrodome, construction began on Reliant Stadium, which would house a new National Football League expansion team. The Houston Texans now play at Reliant Stadium, located just west of the Astrodome. The Astrodome has since been renamed the Reliant Astrodome.

Marquee For Reliant Astrodome - Fannin Street

Events continued to be held in the Reliant Astrodome up until 2009.

Entrance to Reliant Astrodome From Fannin Street, Circa 2007

On November 2, 2013, a “Yard Sale” was held at the Reliant Astrodome, giving people a chance to purchase items such as stadium seats and Astroturf. An auction also was held to sell off more unique items such as player’s lockers and turnstiles.

Unfortunately, the future looks bleak for the Reliant Astrodome. A voter referendum that would have approved $217 million in bonds to renovate the Astrodome as a convention and exhibition center was defeated on November 5, 2013. Although a final decision on the Astrodome will be made by local county officials, the referendum’s defeat sealed the fate of the world’s Eighth Wonder. It is just a matter of time before the Astrodome is demolished, consigned to history as another lost ballpark.

[UPDATE: KUHF Houston reports that the Astrodome recently was added to the National Park Services list of historic places (thanks to Rob Noel for the tip). Although the historic designation does not effect the city’s ability to demolish the Astrodome, it certainly demonstrates how at least some people in Houston feel about the ballpark and may be a step in the right direction of possibility saving the stadium from demolition.]

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Minneapolis Metrodome – Soon To Be A Lost Ballpark

October 14th, 2013

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome is a multi-purpose stadium located at 900 South 5th Street, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Aerial View of the Metrodome, Circa 2002

Named in honor of former Vice President and Minnesota United States Senator Hubert Humphrey, the Metrodome from 1982 through the 2009 season was the home of the Minnesota Twins.

View of HHH Metrodome From Third Street

The National Football League Minnesota Vikings have played their home games at the Metrodome since it opened in 1982. The the University of Minnesota’s football and baseball teams, the Golden Gophers, also have called the Metrodome their home.

Metrodome with Downtown Minneapolis in Background

The Metrodome is the only sports facility to host the World Series (1987 and 1991), the Super Bowl (1992), the NCAA Final Four (1992 and 2001), as well as the MLB All-Star game (1985).

Fourth Street And Kirby Puckett Place, Entrance to Metrodome, Gate H

The ballpark was the third dome-covered stadium used for major league baseball, following Houston’s Astrodome (1965) and Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (1977).

Metrodome View From Behind Home Plate

Home plate was located behind Gate F near the corner of Kirby Puckett Place and South 5th Street. Third base paralleled Kirby Puckett Place, while first base paralleled 5th and 6th Streets.

View of the Metrodome's Third Base Seating and Left Field Grandstand

The center field corner was located near the intersection of South 4th Street and 11th Avenue South.

View of the Metrodome's First Base Seating and Right Field Grandstand

The Metrodome’s unique, inflatable roof is made of a Teflon-coated fiberglass cloth, similar to material used for trampolines.

The Metrodome's Air-Supported Roof

The roof is supported by pressurized air supplied from large fans located along the arena’s roof line.

Metrodome Pressurized Air Support Fans Located Along Roof Line

To keep the dome inflated, the stadium’s internal air pressure must equal or exceed air pressure outside the Metrodome.

Part of the Metrodome's Roof Inflation System in the Upper Reaches Behind Third Base That Keep the Roof Aloft

The entire Metrodome roof was replaced in 2011 after heavy snow build up caused the roof to collapse.  Rather than place the roof in a landfill, a local entrepreneur purchased a large section of the roof material and now offers pieces of it for sale as souvenirs.

View of Centerfield From Upper Deck, HHH Metrodome

A video board, replaced in 2001, is located above the upper deck in left field.

HHH Metrodome Video Board Circa 2002

The home bullpen was located beyond the Twin’s dugout in foul territory, along the third base line.  The visiting bullpen was located along the first base line.

Kyle Lohse Warming Up in Metrodome Bullpen

In this video from August 2002, Minnesota Twin David Ortiz, now known as Big Papi, is standing in the bullpen pregame taking practice swings during Kyle Lohse’s warm up pitches. Afterwards he even stops to sign an autograph.

Located in right field were over 7,000 retractable seats that were used when the Metrodome hosted football.

HHH Metrodome Wall Of Seats Behind Right Field

The Metrodome’s  lower concourse, which ran along the entire perimeter of the ballpark at the top of the lower seating bowl, had the feel of a 1980’s mall food court.

HHH Metrodome Concourse Food Stand

Neither the upper nor low concourse offered any view of the field.

On the HHH Metrodome Concourse With T.C. Bear and a Young Fan

In 2010, the Twins moved to their new home, Target Field, located a mile and a half northwest of the Metrodome.

Target Field Under Construction August 2008 (Looking Toward Home Plate)

Target Field Under Construction August 2008 (Looking Toward Left Field)

The end is near for the Metrodome. After the 2013 football season, the Minnesota Vikings will depart the Metrodome and current plans call for the stadium’s demolition soon thereafter. A new stadium to house the Vikings will be built on the footprint of the Metrodome, with the Vikings scheduled to return for the 2016 season. Hopefully those in charge of designing the Vikings new stadium will find a way to pay homage to the Metrodome and perhaps find a way to keep a piece of the old stadium in place for future generations of sports fans to see and appreciate.

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Posted in HHH Metrodome, Minnesota ballparks | Comments (2)