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This Day in Sports History: Houston Astrodome Opens Its Doors

A look at today's modern sports arenas reveal an array of architectural wonders: retractable roofs, scenic downtown panoramas and first-class amenities have become commonplace. More than half of MLB's 30 stadiums were opened after the turn of the 21st century, while only five predate the 1970s. In the NFL, 17 out of 30 stadiums opened in the year 2000 or later, and just two—Lambeau Field (opened 1957) and Soldier Field (1924)—were opened before the 1970s.

On this day in 1965, the revolutionary Houston Astrodome opened its doors for the first time and ushered in a new era of professional sports stadiums. Built to accommodate the expansion MLB team, the Houston Colt .45s (later renamed the Astros), the Astrodome was originally called the (far less catchy) Harris County Domed Stadium. It was the first multipurpose indoor stadium ever created, earning it the moniker of the Eighth Wonder of the World.

The stadium changed its name to the Houston Astrodome shortly after opening. Its first event was an exhibition game between the Astros and the New York Yankees, where Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle recorded the stadium's first hit and home run.

The first official game of the Astrodome's existence came three days later with 2-0 loss by the Astros to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Astros called the stadium home from 1965 to 1999 and then left for the then-newly constructed Minute Maid Park. 

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The Houston Oilers played home games there from 1968 to 1999 before moving to Nashville. The Houston Cougars played football games at the Astrodome from 1965 to 1997. The stadium also hosted the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from 1966 to 2002.

The Astrodome also served as an entertainment hub for musical acts coming through Houston. Elvis Presley and Pink Floyd played shows there on occasion. The Astrodome was also the host of Selena's final televised concert before her untimely death.

The last time the Astros played at the Astrodome was Oct. 9, 1999 and they recorded a division-clinching win over the Dodgers. The stadium officially closed for business in 2008, and is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Renovation plans were put on hold in late 2019, though the building still stands today to serve as a symbol of innovation and a reminder of Houston's past.

“There are no other updates or changes at this time," Harris County’s chief executive Lina Hidalgo said at the time. "But the Astrodome is forever part of our history,”