HOUSTON (CelebrityAccess) Houstonians paid one last visit to the its Eight Wonder of the World Monday before it gets a multimillion-dollar repurposing.
About 25,000 fans celebrated the Houston Astrodome on its 53d anniversary at the “Domecoming,” a party of sorts at the famous stadium and former home to baseball’s Astros and NFL’s Oilers before it closes for a $105 million redevelopment.
The county-owned Astrodome opened in 1965 but has been vacant for 19 years and shuttered to all events in 2009 (although there was a similar “Domecoming” for the 50th anniversary). Much of that has to do with the introduction of NRG Stadium, which opened its doors in 2002 and is literally on the other side of the parking lot.
It’s been a long time since the old stadium and its state-of-the-art dome, and this fake grass called “Astroturf,” was the wave of the future, with a baseball grounds crew that dressed up as spacemen (the venue opened the same year as NASA came to Houston).
The party included memorabilia and fans wearing T-shirts from years past, according to the Associated Press.
Renovations are expected to begin in October and wrap in 2020. County commissioners approved ithe renovations, which will include 1,400 parking spaces and upgrades for festivals and commercial use, two months ago.
RodeoHouston, the Offshore Technology Conference, and various car and boat shows are anxious to use the new version of the building, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett told the Houston Chronicle.
“We’ve come up with a plan that will let this nine acres be used and rented,” Emmett said. “I am more about using it than saving it. It’s more than nostalgia. It’s a great opportunity to convert it into a revenue generator for the whole NRG complex.”
“It’s like being in a ghost town,” Former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini told the paper. “I remember coming in here with the rafters packed with people, screaming and yelling and celebrating.”