Houston Astrodome, home of the Oilers, opened 50 years ago Thursday

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Fifty years ago Thursday, the Houston Astrodome hosted its first event, with the Houston Astros facing the New York Yankees in an exhibition game. Mickey Mantle, leading off for New York, had the first hit.

There have been some remembrances today of the Astrodome upon its golden anniversary of operation, with HardballTalk among those recalling the now-dormant dome, which still stands near Reliant Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans. ESPN’s Keith Olbermann also remembered the dome, although not so fondly.

The Houston Texans never played in the Astrodome, but the Houston Oilers did from 1968 through 1996, winning three-of-five playoff games in the stadium. The dome was also host to a most unique event — a welcome-home pep rally for the Oilers after their loss to Pittsburgh in the 1978 AFC title game.

There was also the time Earl Campbell powered through the Rams, his ripped jersey flapping. There were scores of Warren Moon TD passes in the dome. However, the Astrodome also played host to the Oilers’ 1993 divisional-round loss to Kansas City — the franchise’s final-ever playoff appearance in Houston. The Oilers never did make a Super Bowl, nor did they ever host a conference title game.

The Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1996. The Astros, meanwhile, would play in the dome through the 1999 season before getting a new stadium. The Texans, an NFL expansion team, opened play in 2002 in their own new digs, too.

Nevertheless, we pause to remember the Astrodome today. NFL fans of a certain age likely recall different little things about the dome. Maybe it’s the bike racks lining the field, the AstroTurf, those timeless and fresh Oilers uniforms, Bum Phillips’ Stetson. Perhaps it’s the “Luv Ya Blue” signs in the stands, Apex One jackets on the sidelines or Moon to Webster Slaughter or Drew Hill or Curtis Duncan or Ernest Givins.

Maybe it’s all of the above.

43 responses to “Houston Astrodome, home of the Oilers, opened 50 years ago Thursday

  1. Bad News Bears in the first movie playing in the dome. I think any of us that played Little League remembers how cool that seemed at the time.

  2. Harris County has been trying for years to repurpose the building from a convention center to a water park. Problem is its chock-full of asbestos and is beyond dilapidated.

    Too much money to fix it and too much money to tear it down….

  3. When I moved to Houston in the 70s I attended Astros and Oilers games and that was when domed stadiums were a rarity. It seemed liked I was watching a sporting event in a shopping mall, but it was cool. The people of Houston had the foresight to build a dome in the 60’s and now hopefully they will keep it from being torn down.

  4. How about The Electric Slide, “Talk of the Town” Gary Brown, and Buddy vs Gilbride? Growing up in Cypress, Tx – these are the memories of my childhood. RIP Oilers!

  5. The Glanville/House of Pain years were pretty cool.

    That team got national games all the time. Warren Moon’s perfect spirals and one of the first teams using the running back-by-committee approach. And Sean Jones the D lineman who looked like he was a foot taller than everybody else.

    That was probably the best team I ever saw that didn’t win a Super Bowl.

  6. Renember when they has to paint over the skylights because they caused many missed fly balls? Quite a wonder when it opened.
    ps Bum Philips never wore his Stetson in the dome. His daddy taught him it wasn’t polite to wear a hat indoors.

  7. The Astrodome was a man-made wonder when it opened; it changed the entire concept of sports stadium design.

    I never cared for it myself, but it was a very important building indeed

  8. The Jets are still tied with the Oilers for most AFC East titles at 4.
    When were the Oilers ever in the AFC East?

  9. Was it UCLA vs Houston at the Astrodome in the late 60’s? I remember pictures of it and the players looked like ‘ants’.

  10. When were the Oilers ever in the AFC East?

    Prior to the AFL-NFL merger the Oilers, Bills, Jets, Patriots, and Dolphins were all in the American Football League Eastern Division which is basically the modern AFC East minus the Oilers/Titans.

  11. AFC Central.

    Warren Moon through the prettiest passes ever.

    I was there for the 527 yards against the Chiefs, what a performance.

    Whoever said they had the best team not to win a Super Bowl, I think it needs to say teams… they had a 3-4 year stretch where they could of gotten it done. I blame the Coaches for a lot, they surely played the prevent you from winning defense late in games when winning.

    Other than that, the Dome was labeled the 8th wonder of the world… impressive in its time.
    Makes me think of Andre the Giant, wasn’t he called the 8th wonder of the world too, lol

  12. The original dome surface was natural grass. When they painted over the glass to eliminate the glare, the grass died, and Astro-turf, the original artificial surface was born.

  13. It’s a shame that we got the Tenessee Titans and Houston Texans out of the oilers departure… Wished the Oilers would have stayed in Houston. Ah, the good ol’ days.

  14. Loved the dome as a kid, but now it’s just an ugly, asbestos-riddled eye sore. It HAS to be torn down. My gosh, even the original Yankee Stadium was torn down! I understand people’s desire to have it around, but only to a point. It’s time we all moved on because progress never ceases.

  15. When were the Oilers ever in the AFC East?
    Uh……..from 1960-1969….

  16. Growing up in Houston I loved going to the astrodome. oilers games, Astros games, I even saw Elvis in concert there. As usual Keith Oberman runs his mouth about stuff he knows nothing about. Does anybody like him?

  17. I went to see the Oilers and got there just as the gates opened one Sunday morning. I got something to eat and decided to sit in the closest seat to eat before going to my seat. There were maybe 500 people in the stadium at the time and someone comes up to me and tells me I’m in his seat. What are the odds?

  18. mackcarrington says: The Jets are still tied with the Oilers for most AFC East titles at 4.
    When were the Oilers ever in the AFC East?

    The precursor to the AFC East was the AFL East from ’60 to ’69, the division in which the Oilers and Jets competed against each other

    Either way you count it, it’s pretty sad for the Jets

  19. To be honest, Nashville deserved a team (as evidenced by their 15 year consecutive sellout streak, I wish Bud Adams would have left the name and history in Houston though.

    Having lived in Nashville and having season tickets for the Titans for years, it was always a bit awkward for the team to retire Oiler legends numbers and/or induct them into the ring of honor. That’s especially true of Warren Moon; Earl Campbell vowed to never have anything to do with the team again and he’s lived up to his word. I guess Bud not leaving the name/history in Houston and just letting it get retired is what happens when there’s a divorce with bad blood. Obviously it’s just as awkward in Indianapolis honoring Baltimore Colts and in St. Louis honoring Los Angeles Rams.

    The Houston Oilers, Columbia Blue, and the Oil Derrick logo/Derrick Dolls cheerleaders were classic and should have remained. It’s sad when you think that Houston agreed to build a new stadium for an NFL franchise only three years after the Oilers left and only agreed to build Minute Maid Park (Enron Field) when the Astros threatened to move to D.C.

    I live in Houston now and there was a lot of history in the dome, they had a tour tonight in celebration, but lets be honest, Yankee Stadium was torn down, Cowboys Stadium was torn down, it’s time for the Astrodome to meet its fate as well.

    FWIW, the 1980’s was the NFL’s greatest decade for uniforms. I miss the 80’s Rams, Oilers, Buccaneers, Broncos, Vikings, Eagles, Jets, and Dolphins uniforms.

  20. For the love of God, tear it down. Eye sore that costs the county money every year. Those outside of Houston can’t appreciate how stupid the current debate is. People think this asbestos gigantic ____ can be repurposed into a first class hotel. For the mere price of a billion dollars to the tax payers. Tear it down!!!

  21. Great memories of the Dome.
    1986 Astros-Mets 16 inning NLCS classic.
    Supercross in January every year.
    Mike Scott clinching no-hitter.
    19 inning Astros game v Expos. By the end of the game, there were about 200 hundred of us left.
    Houston Hurricanes soccer, usually about 200 at the beginning.
    Going up to The Loge to get a soft pretzel.
    That nacho cheese, not sure what it was, but throw on a handful of jalapenos and it was awesome!!

    I remember seeing a Nolan Ryan start once. The sound of the catchers mitt popping and reverberating around the Dome was incredible.

    My son actually texted me a picture from last night. He lives near the Dome and went over to check it out. I took him to his first ball game their. Made me a little proud.

    All of these great memories, but for goodness sake, tear it down.

  22. It wasn’t played in the Astrodome, but I’ll never forget the playoff game where the Bills came back from like 30 points down with their backup QB and knocked the Oilers out in overtime. The Oilers were great back then, their uniforms were fricking cool, and I hated it when they moved. I also hated it when the Rams moved, and I especially hated seeing the Browns move. Not a fan of any of those teams, just a fan of tradition I guess. Up here in NE we came *thisclose* to losing our (alleged) SemiInflatriots to St Louis back in the early ’90’s, and the stress and fear of that time will never be forgotten. St Louis eventually stole the Rams instead, but it just never seemed right. Oh yeah, VERY glad the Bills are staying put!!!

  23. In response to the Oilers Winnning 4 division titles:
    That was the AFL. Not the AFC.
    If you want to bend that distinction , then you can count all AFL championships as NFL championships too. Anything any team won pre-merger is a separate distinction. The Bills won 4 AFC championships. No one ever says they won 6 by counting their AFL championships.

  24. Elvis absolutely played the Dome. He was the lead entertainer for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – 1970 I believe. My high school marching band led the parade that year and we all got freebies to the opening matinee performance. I’m pretty sure he came back and did a regular concert sometime later but not 100% sure.

    I worked there selling programs for the Astros summers of 1967 & 68.

    Best memory: Don Wilson striking out Hank Aaron for the last out of his no-hitter.

    Another cool memory: sitting with some old ex-ballplayers in the seats down the left field foul line when the Phillies were in town. They loved to heckle Dick Allen by calling him “Headlights”. (You’ll have to look that one up)

  25. stexan says:Best memory: Don Wilson striking out Hank Aaron for the last out of his no-hitter.


    All of it is way cool. Thanks for sharing

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