Happy Birthday, Astrodome! How ABC13 inspired the '8th Wonder'

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Thursday, April 9, 2020
How ABC13's studios inspired the Astrodome's design
Dave Ward explains how ABC13's studio designed inspired the Eighth Wonder of the World.

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) -- The Houston Astrodome is celebrating its 55th birthday today. The historic 'Eighth Wonder of the World' first opened on April 9, 1965. But not many people realize that ABC13's studios on Bissonnet inspired the Astrodome's design.

On October 6, 1960, Judge Roy Hofheinz and Houston architect Herman Lloyd were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony of ABC13's new studios. Lloyd was responsible for the design, which was called a "state-of-the-art television station of tomorrow."

ABC13 opened to the public on November 20, 1961.The building's lobby and the main offices overlooked a landscaped patio, complete with palm trees and even a pool. But the creme-de-la-creme of the building was its domed roof, which housed two full-sized television studios.

ABC13's domed design fascinated Judge Hofheinz, who had just secured a professional baseball franchise for Houston and dreamed of building the team a new indoor stadium.

Hofheinz reached out to Herman Lloyd to build the new stadium, with a domed roof, just like ABC13's.

The Astrodome featured clear glass panels so that grass could grow on the playing field. But there was only one problem, which became evident when the Houston Astros played their first game against the New York Yankees inside the new stadium. When a fly ball was hit, outfielders lost sight of the ball, between the glass, the sun, and the metal girders. As a result, the glass was painted over, and the loss of real grass on the field led to the creation of AstroTurf.

Judge Hofheinz originally called his baseball team the Colt .45s. But due to a lawsuit from the Colt .45s firearms manufacturing company, Judge Hofheinz changed the name of the team to the Houston Astros. Had the team been able to keep the name Colt .45s, the building might have been known as the Coltdome, rather than the Astrodome.