Minute Maid Park is home to MLB franchise the Houston Astros. The baseball stadium replaced the 1965-era Astrodome, the first domed multipurpose stadium built in the world. Opened in 2000, the ballpark boasts a retractable roof and a field with completely natural grass. Minute Maid, a beverage subsidiary of Coca Cola, owns the naming rights until 2032. The stadium is among the 15 most batter-friendly baseball stadiums and a marvel for baseball fans.
The Houston Astros started their 1965 MLB season at the Astrodome, which was then considered a wonder among sports facilities. It underwent renovation in 1988 to cater to the expanding needs of the MLB and baseball fans. However, the Astros felt that the old ballpark was fast becoming obsolete and sought a new stadium in 1996 to bolster revenues. The Astros agreed with a plan to build a new ballpark next to Astrodome but later it was moved to a distance of 14 km after Enron pledged to provide substantial funding.
After an agreement with all relevant parties, the Astros and the Harris County administration planned for a $250 million ballpark with a retractable roof. The county residents approved it in a referendum in November 1996. Exactly 11 months later, the construction began.
The first name of the baseball stadium was the Ballpark at Union Station. In April 1999, it became Enron Field after the former American energy major paid $100 million to buy naming rights for 30 years. However, following the Enron financial scandal, the Astros called off the deal in February 2002 and renamed the ballpark Astros Field. Four months later, Coca-Cola subsidiary Minute Maid signed a $100 million, 30-year deal and the baseball stadium became Minute Maid Park.
Design and Features
Architecture-engineering firm Populous designed Minute Maid Park. Formerly known as HOK Sport, it specializes in making retro-modern ballparks, including Kauffman Stadium, Angel Stadium, Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, Baltimore’s Camden Yards, San Francisco’s Oracle Park, San Diego’s Petco Park, Coors Field in Colorado, Nationals Park, Citi Field and Yankee Stadium in New York, Progressive Field in Cleveland and Marlins Park. A big replica of a locomotive reminds the Union Station building that was included in Minute Maid Park to build a clubhouse, cafe, and a team store. The train, a replica of the one serving the Union Station, moves on a 240-meter track when an Astros player scores a home run or the home team does the fielding first. It also runs after an Astros home game win.
The baseball park boasts a retro-modern style design that began with Progressive Field built in 1994. It became Wi-Fi enabled in 2004 providing free internet to fans. Minute Maid Park was the first to install an exclusive video screen to help the hearing impaired enjoy the game. The Chick-fil-A cows were added to the foul poles in 2006. Every fan in the ballpark used to get a chicken sandwich free when a home player hit the pole. In 2008, the field received a new turfgrass Seashore Paspalum. It was renovated again in 2015. Days before the 2011 season, it received the fourth-largest MLB scoreboard. The Seattle Mariners’ T-Mobile Park leads the pack while Cleveland and Kansas City ballparks have bigger scoreboards than the Astros’ home ground.
A major renovation in 2016 leveled Tal’s Hill, a 27-meter-wide small incline bordering the outfield, to add more seating capacity. The Plaza has “playing” statutes of former Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and second baseman Craig Biggio alongside all championship pennants the home team won. It also has commemorative plaques for every notable achievement by the home team. Minute Maid Park has the facility to make it fully airconditioned when required.
The Phillips 66 Home Plate Tower is the place for baseball fans to groove to the tune of music. The 2017 season saw the addition of a food plaza, which now hosts many bars and restaurants. The Michelob Ultra Bar was inaugurated three years later on the right side of the upper concourse providing an excellent view of the field.
The Shed, the official Astros store at Minute Maid Park, is at the Union Station. A dedicated kids’ arena, the Minute Maid Squeeze Play has a good collection of interactive games.
Purely Baseball Things To Know
- The Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series while playing at the Minute Maid Park.
- The home team also won 2017, 2019, and 2021 American League pennants.
- Minute Maid Park has the distinction of hosting the longest MLB postseason game played between the Astros and the Atlanta Braves on October 9, 2005. The home team beat the visitors 7-6 after 18 innings spanning over 7 hours.
- It was also the ballpark to witness the longest World Series game. The Astros lost to the Chicago White Sox 7-5 on October 25, 2005, after a marathon competition that went for 14 innings and close to 6 hours.
- The Chicago White Sox had won three World Series titles in the baseball stadium.
- About 44,203 fans witnessed a game played between the Astros and the Louis Cardinals on September 26, 2001.
- Minute Maid Park sold 43,823 tickets on September 30, 2007, when Astros legend Craig Biggio played his farewell game.
- The first day of the 2010 season saw 43,836 fans in attendance.
- Astros pitcher Mike Fiers achieved the first no-hit blanking the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 on August 21, 2015.
- In 2019, the Houston Astros lost all four World Series games at Minute Maid Park to the Washington Nationals.
- Minute Maid Park together with Globe Life Field hosted the 2020 NLDS.
- At the 2021 World Series at the baseball stadium, the Astros lost to the Atlanta Braves.
- The ballpark opened with a game between the Astros and the Yankees (the Astros won 6-5). The first MLB game at the stadium was between the Astros and the Phillies (the Astros lost 4-1).
- The Houston ballpark had a replica of the 4-4-0 locomotive as a mark of remembrance for the now-integrated Union Station on the left-field side. The train runs along an 800-ft track carrying giant oranges whenever an Astros player scores a home run by or the home team wins a game.
- The plaza of the ballpark has plaques remembering the big-ticket achievements of the Astros and also on display all the pennants they won till today.
- It was in 24th position out of 30 MLB ballparks in 2009 when considering the performance of hitters. In 2019, it became 10th.
- Soccer: Minute Maid Park hosted the 2006 edition of the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
- WWE: The baseball stadium was the venue for the 2020 Royal Rumble with a record attendance exceeding 42,000.
- Concerts: It has been hosting concerts regularly. Paul McCartney, Madonna, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift, and other artists had their performances at the baseball park.
- Boxing: The first boxing match was held in May 2015.
- Cricket: The stadium hosted a cricket match in 2015 with Australian cricket legend Shane Warne leading a team.