Roy Hofheinz

Roy Mark Hofheinz (April 10, 1912 – November 22, 1982), popularly known as Judge Hofheinz or "The Judge", was a Texas state representative from 1934 to 1936, county judge of Harris County, Texas from 1936 to 1944, and mayor of the city of Houston from 1953 to 1955.

Roy Hofheinz
52nd Mayor of Houston
In office
Preceded byOscar F. Holcombe
Succeeded byOscar F. Holcombe
County Judge of Harris County, Texas
In office
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Roy Mark Hofheinz

(1912-04-10)April 10, 1912
Beaumont, Texas, U.S.
DiedNovember 22, 1982(1982-11-22) (aged 70)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Resting placeGlenwood Cemetery in Houston
Spouse(s)Irene Cafcalas (1912-1966), (m. 1933-1966, her death)
ChildrenRoy Hofheinz, Jr.,
Fred Hofheinz
Dene Hofheinz-Anton
Alma materRice University University of Houston
Known forPioneering modern stadiums

Early yearsEdit

Hofheinz was born on April 10, 1912 in Beaumont, Texas. He started work as a teenager to support his family after his father died when Hofheinz was fifteen. He matriculated at Rice University and the University of Houston. He was nineteen-years-old when he graduated from the University of Houston Law School.[1]


A flamboyant and successful orator, broadcaster, developer, and sportsman, he was part of the group that brought Major League Baseball franchise the Houston Colt .45s (which later became the Houston Astros) to Houston, as well as built the Harris County Domed Stadium, known as the Astrodome, the first large covered baseball and football facility in the world. Known in his youth as the "boy Mayor," at 23 he was the youngest county administrator in the state. He acted as campaign manager for Lyndon B. Johnson during Johnson's rise to the position of Congressman and then Senator.

After World War II Hofheinz pioneered FM radio and built a network of radio and television stations (790 KTHT Houston now KBME, 1530 KSOX Harlingen TX now KGBT, 680 KBAT San Antonio now KKYX) in the Texas Gulf Coast area, and made a business of salvaging the slag from steelmaking, crushing it and selling it as roadbuilding aggregate. Later, after the "Dome" was built, he worked with engineers at Monsanto Corporation to develop Astroturf, an imitation grass now widely used where natural grass does not flourish. In the 1960s he purchased, along with Israel and Irvin Feld, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, later selling his interest to Mattel, Inc. His giant southwest Houston development project, the Astrodomain, included the first major theme park in coastal Texas, Astroworld. This development came at hard times just before the recession during the early 1970s. His son, Fred Hofheinz, served as mayor of Houston in the 1970s.

In the late 1960s, Hofheinz became involved with a Buffalo, New York, developer, Edward H. Cottrell, in an effort to have the County of Erie, N.Y., build what would have been the world's second domed stadium in Lancaster, N.Y., just outside Buffalo. Hofheinz formed a corporation, The Dome Stadium, Inc., for this purpose and, when the County refused to build the facility, he and Cottrell began what would become a 20-year breach of contract litigation seeking hundreds of millions of dollars of lost profits damages. After an initial favorable jury verdict,[2], Dome Stadium, Inc.'s claims ultimately were dismissed after one of the longest jury trials in New York history.[3]

Judge Roy Hofheinz was a driving force behind the effort to obtain the Major League Baseball franchise for Houston, along with oilman Craig F. Cullinan Jr. who had been involved with the failed attempted "Continental League" and who was chairman of the Houston Sports Association executive committee, a syndicate of local businessmen dedicated to bringing a pro baseball team to southeastern Texas. On October 17, 1960, Houston was awarded the Colt .45 franchise in the ten-team National League. They played their inaugural game on April 10, 1962, the Judge's 50th birthday, beating the Chicago Cubs 11-2.

He also owned the Houston Stars professional soccer team, which was actually the imported Bangu Atlético Clube from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Hofheinz Pavilion, a multi-purpose arena on the University of Houston campus, is named in his honor.

Death and legacyEdit

In 2006, Roy Hofheinz was inducted in the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2016, the Hofheinz family filed suit to require the University of Houston to keep Hofheinz's name on the school's basketball arena, where the Houston Cougars play. The university has asked the Harris County Probate Court to end the 47-year agreement on Hofheinz Pavilion so that the institution can negotiate a naming-rights deal in a $60 million renovation project set to begin in the spring of 2017.[4] The university and Hofheinz family settled the dispute, and as part of the agreement a plaza with a bronze statue of Hofheinz was built near the new arena.[5]

It was announced at FanFest that Hofheinz would be inducted into the 2020 Houston Astros's Hall of Fame. [6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Roy Mark Hofheinz from the Handbook of Texas Online
  2. ^ "Erie County Loses Dome Suit," The New York Times, August 5, 1984,
  3. ^ Kenford Company, Inc., and Dome Stadium, Inc., Appellants, v. County of Erie, et al., Respondents, 67 N.Y.2d 257 (1986), Court of Appeals of the State of New York, Decided May 6, 1986.
  4. ^ "Hofheinz family sues to keep name on Houston Cougars' arena". Laredo Morning Times. May 4, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  5. ^ "UH, Hofheinz family settle dispute over renaming arena". Houston Chronicle. June 14, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  6. ^ "2020 Astros Hall of Fame class announced". January 18, 2020. Retrieved January 20, 2020.


  • Reed, Robert. A Six-Gun Salute: An Illustrated History of the Houston Colt .45s. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Co., 1999.
Preceded by
Oscar F. Holcombe
Mayor of Houston, Texas
Succeeded by
Oscar F. Holcombe