Minute Maid Park
|Minute Maid Park|
|The Juice Box|
|Former names||The Ballpark at Union Station (2000)
Enron Field (2000–2002)
Astros Field (February–July 2002)
|Location||501 Crawford Street
Houston, Texas 77002
|Broke ground||November 1, 1997|
|Opened||March 30, 2000 (Exhibition)
April 7, 2000 (Regular Season)
|Renovated||2010 (Off season)|
|Owner||Harris County-Houston Sports Authority|
|Operator||Harris County-Houston Sports Authority|
|Surface||Platinum TE Paspalum|
|Scoreboard||54 feet (16 m) feet tall by 124 feet (38 m) feet wide|
|Construction cost||$250 million
($339 million in 2013 dollars)
|Architect||HOK Sport (Populous since 2009)
Molina & Associates
|Project manager||Schindewolfe and Associates|
|Structural engineer||Walter P Moore|
|Services engineer||M-E Engineers, Inc. (Bowl)
Uni-Systems, Inc. (Roof)
|General contractor||Brown & Root/Barton Malow/Empire Joint Venture|
|Record attendance||43,836 April 5, 2010|
|Field dimensions||Left Field - 315 feet (96 m)
Left-Center - 362 feet (110 m)
Left-Center (deep) - 404 feet (123 m)
Center Field - 436 feet (133 m)
Right-Center - 373 feet (114 m)
Right Field - 326 feet (99 m)
Backstop - 49 feet (15 m)
|Houston Astros (MLB) (2000–present)|
Minute Maid Park (also The Ballpark at Union Station, Enron Field, and Astros Field) is a ballpark in Downtown Houston, Texas, United States that opened in 2000 to house the Major League Baseball Houston Astros.
The ballpark was Houston's first retractable-roofed stadium, protecting fans and athletes from Houston's notoriously humid weather as did its predecessor, the Astrodome, but also allowing fans to enjoy outdoor baseball during favorable weather. The ballpark also features a grass field, compared to the Astrodome's artificial AstroTurf, which was generally disliked by professional baseball players. The largest entrance to the park is inside what was once Houston's Union Station, and the left-field side of the stadium features a railway as homage to the site's history. The train moves along a track on top of the length of the exterior wall beyond left field whenever an Astros player hits a home run, and/or when the Astros win a game. The engine's tender, traditionally used to carry coal, is filled with giant oranges in tribute to Coca Cola's Minute Maid's most famous product, orange juice. The ballpark has 5,095 club seats and 63 luxury suites.
The ballpark was first christened as Enron Field on April 7, 2000, with naming rights sold to the Houston energy and financial trading company in a 30 year, $100 million deal. Astros management faced a public relations nightmare when the energy corporation went bankrupt in 2001. During its days as Enron Field, it was also dubbed "Ten-Run" or "Home Run" Field due to its cozy left-field dimensions. In keeping with this theme while paying homage to its current sponsor, the nickname "The Juice Box" is colloquially used today. The dubbing of the park as an extreme hitter-friendly park has been called into question in recent years. In fact, the 2009 season saw the park ranked 24th out of 30 Major League parks in terms of runs scored in the park, meaning only six other stadiums saw fewer runs scored during the season, and ten other ballparks saw more home runs hit. The extremely deep center-field and left-center-field dimensions help to balance out the park significantly, and Minute Maid's Batting park factor is consistently very near average.
In dramatic contrast to the Astrodome, the most pitching-oriented stadium in Major League Baseball for most of its existence, Minute Maid Park is known for being particularly hitter-friendly down the lines, especially in left field where it is only 315 ft (96 m) to the Crawford Boxes, though the wall there is 19 feet (5.8 m) tall. In a challenge to home run hitters, Drayton McLane's office windows, located in the old Union Station and directly above the Crawford Boxes, are made of glass and a sign below his window is marked 422 ft (135 m) from home plate.
In contrast to the ease of hitting a home run to the Crawford Boxes, it is quite difficult to hit a ball out in center field, as the dead-center wall is 436 ft (133 m) from home plate. Fielding is a challenge there as well, due to the 90-foot (27 m) wide center field incline known as Tal's Hill, for former team president Tal Smith, an element taken from Crosley Field and other historic ballparks (in a bit of gallows humor, the hill is also known as the "Grassy Knoll"), and the flagpole in play, an element taken from Yankee Stadium before its remodeling in the mid-'70s and Tiger Stadium among others. Milwaukee Brewers player Richie Sexson once hit a ball off the flagpole. There was a mark there until the 2011 season, when the pole was repainted.
While Crosley Field's infamous left field terrace, which was half as steep (only 15 degrees) as Tal's Hill (30 degrees), was a natural feature of the site on which the park was located, Tal's Hill is purely decorative. Both structures have been held in equal disdain by the respective outfielders who have had to patrol those areas. This hill has caused some of the most replayed catches in recent baseball history, and plenty of controversy as well. Lance Berkman said, "If the ball rolls onto the hill, it's not steep enough to roll back, so you have to go get it. Then there's the chance of running into the flagpole that's on it and getting hurt.” Fans started an online petition to remove the hill and flagpole, though the petition has since been discontinued.
A concourse above Tal's Hill features the "Phillips 66 Home Run Porch" in left-center field that is actually over the field of play, and features a classic gasoline pump that displays the total number of Astros home runs hit since the park opened.
The stadium can also be fully air-conditioned when required.
In 2004, the Roast launched WI-Fi throughout the ballpark, allowing fans to use the Internet while attending a game for a fee. In addition, the ballpark was the first major sports facility to use a separate video board exclusively for closed captioning for the hearing impaired of PA system and video board content, rather than appearing along the bottom of the main board.
The visiting team's bullpen is housed entirely in the exterior left field wall, next to the Crawford Boxes, making it one of the few bullpens in Major League ballparks to be completely indoors. Although windows in the outfield fence offer a view into and from the bullpen, its entrance is actually built into the side of the Crawford Boxes.
In 2006, the Chick-fil-A cows were unveiled on the foul poles, saying EAT MOR FOWL, and the cows have Astros caps on. Anytime an Astros player hits the pole, the fans in attendance get a free chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A. Hunter Pence is the first and second Astro to hit the left field "Fowl Pole" when he did it twice in the 2007 season. Ty Wigginton became the third Astro to hit the left field pole on September 16, 2007. Kazuo Matsui hit the right field foul pole on August 3, 2009 with a 2 run homer in the 6th inning to beat the Giants. Carlos Lee hit the left field pole on July 28, 2010, giving the Astros a 8-1 win against the Cubs. 2 days later, Jeff Keppinger hit the Left Field pole to help the Astros win 5-0 against the Brewers.
After the 2008 season, the Astros' groundskeepers began installing 2.3 acres (9,300 m2) of a new turfgrass playing surface at Minute Maid Park. The Astros also became one of the first to use the new Chemgrass, later known as AstroTurf after its first well-publicized use at the Houston Astrodome in 1966.
For the 2011 season, the park added a large Daktronics HD screen nicknamed "El Grande" replacing the original one in center field. At 54 feet high and 124 feet wide, it is the third largest scoreboard in Major League Baseball, behind Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners) and Kaufmann Stadium (home of the Kansas City Royals). The old screen was taken out and replaced by billboards. Additionally, a smaller HD screen was added on the far left field wall. The ring of advertisement screens around the park were replaced in favor of HD ribbon boards.
- On October 9, 2005, Minute Maid Park hosted the longest postseason game in Major League Baseball history, both in terms of time and number of innings. The Astros defeated the Atlanta Braves 7–6 in a game lasting eighteen innings, which took 5 hours and 50 minutes to play.
- On October 25, 2005, Minute Maid Park hosted the first World Series game ever played in Texas, and the longest World Series game ever played, which the Astros lost to the eventual World Series champion Chicago White Sox 7–5 in 14 innings; this game lasted 5 hours and 41 minutes. The following night, the White Sox won the World Series—first in 88 years—at Minute Maid Park.
- On September 30, 2007, in Craig Biggio's last game of his career, Minute Maid Park hit the highest attendance in its eight-year history by selling 43,823 tickets, 107% of its capacity.
- On April 5, 2010, Opening Day of 2010, Minute Maid Park surpassed its highest attendance total once again by selling 43,836 tickets, 13 more tickets than its previous record.
Events other than baseball
While primarily a baseball venue, Minute Maid Park can adequately host sports such as soccer and both codes of rugby. The venue can also play host to large-scale rock concerts. It is not large enough to comfortably accommodate American football.
Its debut as a soccer venue happened during the 2006 edition of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. The stadium hosted the first leg of the quarterfinal between Portmore United of Jamaica (the "home" team) and Club América of Mexico.
The stadium also is the host of the Houston College Classic college baseball, part of the winter fan festival held in February. The tournament features local schools the University of Houston and Rice University every year, a pair of major conference schools, alternating between Big 12 members University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University, Baylor University and SEC member Texas A&M University, as well as two other teams from around the country.
The nationally syndicated TV talk show Rachael Ray held a mass wedding at the park following Hurricane Ike for 40 couples who were unable to get married after a company they paid to hold the weddings went bankrupt. Comedian Jeffrey Ross served as best man for all 40 couples. The ceremony was aired as part of a special episode of the talk show on November 21, 2008.
- Minute Maid Park: Facts and Figures. Accessed May 24, 2006.
- Ballpark Digest Visit to Minute Maid Park
- Ryan, Jeff (July 21, 2003). "Dangers of the diamond: TSN picks the nine biggest ballpark obstacles—from the brightest lights to the most unusual landscaping—in the majors - Baseball". The Sporting News. Retrieved February 28, 2007.
- Astros Daily - Your best source for news and information on the Houston Astros
- Levine, Zachary (October 7, 2010). "Astros plan major upgrades to Minute Maid Park". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- Platinum TE Installed in Minute Maid Park
- Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2013. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Enron Field Hits a Home Run - Modern Steel Construction
- M-E Engineers, Inc. | Awards
- "2013 Houston Astros Media Guide". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. February 19, 2013. p. 452. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- 2012 Houston Astros Media Guide
- Barron, David (April 7, 2005). "'El Grande' Video Scoreboard is Just One of Many Upgrades Found at Minute Maid". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
- MLB Franchise Valuations - Forbes.com
- Fallas, Bernardo (April 20, 2010). "Astros Seeking to Fight Off Decline in Attendance". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- "Minute Maid Park". ESPN. Retrieved June 24, 2009.
- "MLB Park Factors - 2010". ESPN. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- "Minute Maid Park Facts and Figures". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- "Stadium Systems". VAHLE, Inc. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- "Minute Maid Park goes Wi-Fi". Broadcast Engineering. September 24, 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- "Minute Maid Park". BallparkTour.com. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Zaccardi, Nick (December 8, 2008). "Astros First to Use New Turfgrass Surface". Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
- Ortiz, Jose De Jesus (October 10, 2005). "A Win Like No Other". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 10, 2005.
- Ortiz, Jose de Jesus (October 26, 2005). "Astros Lose Heartbreaker at Bitter End". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved October 26, 2005.
- Ortiz, Jose de Jesus (September 30, 2007). "Biggio Goes Out in Style As Astros Win". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Fallas, Bernardo (February 23, 2006). "Club América Finds Its Footing in Win / Mexican Team Produces Goals to Rally Past Portmore United". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Noonoo, Jemimah (November 3, 2008). "Rachael Ray Holds Mass Wedding in Houston". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Minute Maid Park.|
- Stadium site on astros.com
- Levine, Zachary. "Astros looking at the bigger picture." Houston Chronicle. October 8, 2010.
|Events and tenants|
|Home of the
2000 – present
U.S. Cellular Field
|Host of the