This article was written by Paul Geisler Jr.
This article was published in The National Pastime: Baseball in the Space Age (Houston, 2014)
Despite the phenomenal engineering feat and the novelty of the stadium, attendance at the Astrodome ranked significantly lower than the average attendance in the National League during the Dome’s life, with a few notable exceptions.[fn]Attendance figures from www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/housattn.shtml.[/fn]
The Dome opened with strong attendance numbers in the inaugural season of 1965, with 2,151,470—158.4% of the league average. Once the honeymoon was over, totals declined each of next three seasons, yet remained above league average through 1969.
Ten years in, 1975 attracted the lowest number of fans in the Dome’s 35-year tenure with an attendance of 858,002—less than 40% of the inaugural year, and only 62% of the league average for that year. They failed to reach the one million mark again the very next season with only 886,146.
Attendance numbers fell below the league average in 23 of the 35 years, including the 16-year stretch from 1982 through 1997.
Astrodome attendance surpassed the opening year total only three times: in 1980 (when the team won 93 games and finished first in their division) and in the final two years in the Dome—1998–99—when attendance bettered the league average. The Astros reached the two million mark two other times, 1993 and 1997.
Across the full 35-year term, Dome attendance ranks significantly lower than the league average, at the 96% level. A two-sample t-test, assuming unequal variances, produces a “p” value of 0.04. Excluding the high attendance total of the opening year, the level raises to the 98% level, with a “p” value of 0.02.
PAUL GEISLER JR. grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and has been a Lutheran pastor for over 35 years. He lives in Lake Jackson, Texas, with his wife Susan and their three children: Sarah, Brydon, and Johanna. He loves anything baseball — playing, watching, coaching, researching, and writing.
Table: Astros home attendance, 1965-99
|Year||Astrodome Total||League Average|