NRG Astrodome: One Of The Most Important Buildings In Texas’s HistoryBy Kanyi M
Home to some of the greatest moments in sports history, including Muhammad Ali vs. Cleveland Williams and the Houston Oilers’ first Super Bowl win, NRG Astrodome was opened on April 9, 1965, as the world’s first multi-purpose domed stadium. The Guinness Book of World Records listed it as the world’s largest stadium by its construction and has since been recognized as such.
A post-Hurricane Katrina renovation made it a state-of-the-art performance and event facility with a unique roof design and spectacular views of downtown Houston and also included commercial office space. It is one of three venues in Houston that can hold 10,000 people or more.
Named after Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz, who had donated most of the land for the stadium, the Astrodome was the first completely air-conditioned building in Houston. It became a signature landmark of the city. It also marked the first time an all-solar roof was used for a sports arena.
During the early 1970s, the Astros played every home game at the Astrodome. They played some “home” games at Shea Stadium in New York City and other “home” games at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii and San Diego Stadium.
The Dome’s appearance was changed slightly in 1968 with a giant canopy painted to resemble an upside-down spaceship “flying” above the stadium. It gave the illusion that, from a distance, that entry into the stadium was into a hole in space. The Astrodome was one of the few venues that offered what has been called a “real” view of the sky, which could be seen through a clear panel positioned near where one of two large stabilizing fins attached to a rotating section of the roof would normally be. The roof, when fully rotated, was often described as being “in orbit.”