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Thread: Astrodome / Harris County Domed Stadium

  1. #26
    There were a few locations considered for the Astrodome but they settled on a 494 acre tract of land six miles just south of downtown where the new Loop 610 freeway would eventually pass by. Much of the land was owned by R.E. "Bob" Smith and he, along with Roy Hofheinz, finished purchasing the rest of the land from the Hilton Corporation. Smith and Hofheinz became the primary owners of the team until a falling out in 1965. Hofheinz envisioned monorails to sweep people from various areas of the parking lots up to the front gates of the stadium. The rail system was never done but they did provide tram service. Half of the stadium was built underground to limit the vertical travel by fans on the ramps. That is why the Dome looks smaller than Reliant Stadium today, which sits just to the west. The playing field inside Reliant Stadium is at street level because it would have cost a lot more money to rip up the sewer and piping systems that were under the parking lot surrounding the Astrodome. Fans are required to walk up three ramps to get to the Main Concourse.

  2. #27
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    Hey Astros, neat information. I started a thread about the preliminary design ideas for the Cardinals in the mid 90's up until the final choice. I think it's neat to hear about and see "what could have been" whether the designs are not as good as the final product or better. Do you know of any other information or illustrations of early concepts for the Astros Stadium? I'd be interested to see them, whether they are concepts from the early 60's or from the 90's before they built Enron Field/Minute Maid park.

  3. #28
    I like the idea for the monorail to go along with the space and future theme of the park, but the tram is much more feasible.

    My next question is, if there was no dome for baseball yet, what plans did the astros follow. Did they try to mimic a basketball arena? If not, did the people of houston just have blind faith that this dome would work?

    Finally how bad was the glare from the roof? Could players just have worn sunglasses? And was it affecting the fans at all i.e. sunburns or making the stadium too hot?

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Chevy114 View Post
    I like the idea for the monorail to go along with the space and future theme of the park, but the tram is much more feasible.

    My next question is, if there was no dome for baseball yet, what plans did the astros follow. Did they try to mimic a basketball arena? If not, did the people of houston just have blind faith that this dome would work?

    Finally how bad was the glare from the roof? Could players just have worn sunglasses? And was it affecting the fans at all i.e. sunburns or making the stadium too hot?
    The lamella truss system had been previously used in other areas of the world for much smaller scale projects. The lamella system uses a pattern of isoceles triangle bracing instead of an equilateral pattern and would create a dome that would look like a big round bubble. They also went with this type of construction because of the possible threats of hurricanes. This type of dome would allow movement at its base (called a tension ring) where it attaches to the stadium structure. The Astrodome and Shea Stadium shared the same architectural and engineering consultants (not lead team) and Shea was used as a basic starting point for the stadium structure. The construction of the dome involved utilizing support towers at key points around the dome. The towers were lowered and removed simultaneously allowing the completed dome to fully rest on the stadium structure. The engineers correctly calculated within 1/32 of an inch in the deflection of the dome as it came to rest. There were lawsuits filed to prevent the construction because some didn't want any tax money to be involved with a project like this. The great team work and preparation amongst all the architectural and engineering firms really made this work without a hitch. There was one death during the construction. A worker fell from a beam in the dome.

    The glare from the skylight panels (4,596 of them) were designed to diffuse direct sunlight. The dome skylights feature more than 350,000 pounds of acrylic monomer cast in a double layer of sheeting. The outside layer is .250-inch thick clear plastic. The inside pattern acrylic panel is .187-inch thick and is designed to diffuse light. The heavy duty aluminum frame units that encase the skylights at 7 feet 2 inches by 3 feet 4 inches and have a 1.5-inch air space separating the panels. These skylights were to allow natural ligth to filter in without creating shadows from the steel skeleton of the roof. They just didn't realize how bright the glare would be during the day. Sunglasses were used in preseason practices but the glare was too much. Charlie Finley even sent over some orange baseballs and the Astros were given special permission to use them but they didn't work either. The only solution was to paint the skylights. They did this early on in 1965 but had to touch it up again later that season because the glare was still a little strong. Previous to painting the skylights, there was enough sunlight filtering into the Astrodome that they actually played some day games without the stadium lights on. The painting of the skylights cut down almost half of the sunlight although you could still see the difference in sunlight inside when there was a partly cloudy day. It would get brighter and darker, almost like a greenhouse effect. This solution to the glare prompted the invention of Astroturf.

  5. #30
    Good thing the astrodome worked as well as it did because I feel like many other domes poped up around the country in 10 or so years following the astrodome. I like the shape of the stadium it still looks futuristic to me like how the royals stadium or the bluejays stadium looks. I am still having a hard time putting myself in a world where domes didn't exist since I was born in 1983. But it sounds like a pretty neat experience.

    As for the glare, I just found it odd that there was such a glare and yet the grass in the dome never dried out. But I guess its a good thing because that caused the invention of astroturf which helped with other sports domes.

  6. #31
    The huge difference in the Astrodome's roof in comparison to the other domes was the fact that it was designed to let light in. The Superdome, built with the exact lamella frame is covered solid, the Kingdome was solid concrete, the Metrodome is solid fabric and so forth.

  7. #32

    Question

    I was always curious about this--what was the reason they removed the big gondola that used to be suspended from the Astrodome ceiling? By the time I attended my first and only game there in 1984, it was gone. Did it ever actually serve any useful purpose (besides serving as broadcast perch for Lindsey Nelson)?

  8. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by HollandsComet View Post
    I was always curious about this--what was the reason they removed the big gondola that used to be suspended from the Astrodome ceiling? By the time I attended my first and only game there in 1984, it was gone. Did it ever actually serve any useful purpose (besides serving as broadcast perch for Lindsey Nelson)?
    It was pretty much gone by 1981. By this time that gondola had been in place for about 15-16 years. It had been used numerous times and there were upgrades that were made to the sound system in the 80s. There was a smaller gondola that remained and to this day there is a pentagonal gondola with some speakers on it that it suspended from the center of the dome. The original gondola was used to provide a sound system and lighting for boxing matches, basketball games and various floor stages. It could raise and lower just like an elevator. In the early days they sent photographers up there to take the world's first "bomb sight" photos of a baseball field. That was kind of funny. For those who do not know about the gondola here are some photos.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by HollandsComet View Post
    I was always curious about this--what was the reason they removed the big gondola that used to be suspended from the Astrodome ceiling? By the time I attended my first and only game there in 1984, it was gone. Did it ever actually serve any useful purpose (besides serving as broadcast perch for Lindsey Nelson)?
    Just another follow-up side note on this...

    That gondola did get removed after a study was conducted about 1980 and they felt it might be too heavy on a long term basis to keep it up there. It had already been hanging there for 15 years. There were no signs of any structure problems in the roof at all. It was done at a time when they were going to begin a number of renovation projects in the stadium.

  10. #35
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    Thumbs up Astrodome Tours

    Very cool thread. I would also like to know if they do tours there.
    Jimmy Dugan: Because there's no crying in baseball. THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL! No crying! (Tom Hanks, "A League of Their Own" (1992)

  11. #36
    They do tours of the Reliant Park complex (formerly Astrodomain) but I do not think it includes the Dome. I remember making my parents take me on a tour when I was little so I could see that huge scoreboard blast off.

    You can still walk the perimeter of the outside and see the dedication plaque at the west gate entrance.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #37
    Why don't they do tours, all they use it for is livestock and rodeos right?

  13. #38
    The Astrodome mainly houses offices for the Houston Sports and Convention Corporation and Aramark. They are located in the old Astros/Astrodome USA offices. They do not run the stadium air-conditioning like they used to (as it does cost $$$) and I don't think tours would support the cost. They air-condition the office areas only. The large three-turbine air-conditioner located on the east end of the stadium was designed to last 40 years and the Astrodome is 43 as of April 9th (the day it opened). It still runs well but had the Astros stayed it would've needed upgrading or replacement.

    The rodeo takes place in Reliant Stadium which sits directly west of the Dome. It has been there since 2003. They use the Astrodome as the "Hideout" which is bascially a huge bar. They put a stage in centerfield, line the floor with some tables and sell beer and drinks. Many people go there as an after-party once the main rodeo performance/concert is done.

    Check out this flickr photo stream. The guy who took them did a good job of showing the interior as it is now.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlsnp/2...7604089348954/
    Last edited by Astros; 04-18-2008 at 07:40 AM.

  14. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Astros View Post
    Check out this flickr photo stream. The guy who took them did a good job of showing the interior as it is now.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mlsnp/2...7604089348954/
    Interesting shots, thanks for the link.

    I have a question about the cieling. I know the cieling tiles were painted back in the 60's and astroturf installed, but in these pictures it looks like light is again shining through.

    In this photo, from the linked site, it looks like a section is still painted.

    Can you explain what the deal is with the roof ?
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by whoisonit View Post
    Interesting shots, thanks for the link.

    I have a question about the cieling. I know the cieling tiles were painted back in the 60's and astroturf installed, but in these pictures it looks like light is again shining through.

    In this photo, from the linked site, it looks like a section is still painted.

    Can you explain what the deal is with the roof ?
    Great question. I think because people are used to seeing the Kingdome and Metrodome for baseball, they tend to forget that the Astrodome's roof was designed to let light in. The entire roof is still painted today. That is still the amount of light that comes in. The panels you see that are painted completely are the ones that were located behind home plate. They placed more coats of paint there than on the other ones. It was done like this to create a darker background for outfielders to see the baseball better.

    Take a look at my markings on the photo below and you'll see how the baseball was laid out. The red Field Level seats would move back into baseball configuration.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  16. #41
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    man i miss the dome!

  17. #42
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    I'm impressed with the pictures you all find and post on this site.

    Pretty cool stuff.

  18. #43
    Some pictures from a late '60's Astrodome program, which showed various uses of the dome.







    The next 2 are from the classic 1968 NCAA championship game between UCLA & Houston, called the college basketball Game of the Century













  19. #44
    I saw an interview with some of the players from the ucla game, and they said there was a huge time delay on the sound, so you would make a big shot and 3 seconds later you would hear the crowd going nuts. Pretty cool thing to watch!
    The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

  20. #45
    That basketball pic is amazing. what and odd set-up. Imagine the long walk to the bench from the lockeroom...

  21. #46


    Astro Hall


    Illustration of the Astroland complex


    Astro World


    Astro Lounge


    Some more recent shots

    1992


    2005 post-Katrina refugee center


    2007



  22. #47
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    Wow, great thread Astros!

  23. #48
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  24. #49
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    Great pics. WOW, back in the day it was used for everything. I think the basketball set-up looked dumb. Fans are too far from the game.

  25. #50
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    Was that a stock car racetrack?? Thats awesome!

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