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A lot of people wanted a piece of the Dome

Unfortunately, most came away empty-handed.

This one is not for sale

Wearing a floppy orange hat and an Astros baseball shirt, Dene Hofheinz grabbed a front-row seat for Saturday’s auction of iconic items from the domed stadium her father built more than four decades ago.

She joined thousands of others who waited for hours in long lines to get a piece of history from the world-famous Astrodome. Popular items, including stadium seats and squares of Astroturf, sold out as organizers acknowledged being overwhelmed by the turnout.

Ted Nelkin, whose family owned a sports memorabilia store in Houston for decades and formerly operated a trading card store at the Astrodome, waited more than 11 hours in line and left with a receipt for two pairs of seats, which he was told he could pick up in December.

The manner in which the sale was conducted was “the worst,” Nelkin said.

“I’ve got nothing good to say about it,” he said. “They could have cared less that we were there. It was ‘If you want your seats, you will wait in line as long as it takes.’ We were kept in the dark and had no idea of what to expect.”

Nostalgic fans started lining up around 5 a.m., three hours before the sale was set to begin at the adjacent Reliant Center.

Nelkin said he was told that organizers ran out of Astroturf pieces at 11 a.m. and ran out of physical seats that had been removed from the Dome by 2 p.m., forcing buyers to receive receipts for seats to pick up next month.

Mark Miller, Reliant Park’s general manager, said sale organizers expected about 1,500 people to show up but that the actual crowd was six to eight times that size.

“I apologize to everyone for the wait,” he said. “The sentiment for this building is just overwhelming, but the crowd was very cordial and very understanding, and we had no real issues.”

[…]

“We were going to feel good if we had sold 500 pairs of seats,” Miller said. Instead, organizers sold 900 pairs and accepted orders for another 1,500 pairs.

Miller said Reliant Park will conduct an online auction starting at noon Nov. 15 for customers who were unable to get to the Saturday morning sale. Plenty of seats remain, he said, but he is unsure how much Astroturf, if any, remains available.

The Reliant Park folks guessed at the level of demand for Astrodome items by basing it on the volume at other stadium auctions. Never let it be said Houston isn’t a sports town, I guess. As far as the subsequent online auction goes, I’d love to tell you more, but there’s nothing in the story about it, there’s nothing on the Reliant Park events calendar or on their Facebook page. So who knows when or at what URL it will be. On the plus side, that ought to keep demand under control. John Coby, who attended the sale and came await more disappointed than anything else, has more.

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