No they knew exactly what the air-conditioning system was capable of. There was a communications room with a computer that monitored the air system in the stadium, concourses, offices and other areas. They just did it to appease the complainers. Getting it into the media for additional coverage didn't hurt either.
I think its funny and a good way to get in the papers like you said. I am just trying to see someone today saying the the rays beat us because they used the ac to push their balls out and move ours in.
Anyone who claims that today would get laughed at.
In all seriousness the Astrodome did provide a lot of new features not seen in stadiums before besides the domed roof. I've spoken to many people involved with the team and other organizations in those early days. They were amazed at what they saw and it was actually believable that you could have different weather patterns in the stadium. In the early days they ran the air system in the stadium even when there wasn't a game going on to prevent mositure buildup. This used to happen in large zepplin hangers where a light mist would fall because of the large size.
I have heard people talk about it like this stadium was like 10 steps ahead of any other stadium up to that point. With the huge light up scoreboad, the real grass in a dome, then later the astroturf, and being one of the first stadiums to be away from a city to make room for tons of parking. I will alway speak highly of this dome!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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)?
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.
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)
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.
Why don't they do tours, all they use it for is livestock and rodeos right?
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.
Last edited by Astros; 04-18-2008 at 08:40 AM.
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 ?
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.