Minute Maid Park replaced the Houston Astros old ballpark, the Astrodome, which was a hugely influential stadium due to the fact that it was the first domed stadium that was designed to be a multi-purpose facility. Also known as “The Juicebox”, Minute Maid Park takes the exact opposite approach of the Astrodome, building a classic-style, open air ballpark that includes a retractable roof, the first such structure in Houston. Another huge change was the installation of a natural grass turf, which is preferred over AstroTurf.
This project is yet another major North American sports stadium engulfed in controversy due to funding issues, with the referendum to spend public money on the new facility passing by a slim majority of 51% to 49%. The stadium was signed into existence by George W. Bush on June 2nd, 1997, with the facility opening on March 30th, 2000 at a cost of $250 million.
The Minute Maid Train chugs along the left field wall anytime an Astros player hits a homer, adding to the aesthetic appeal of this beautiful ballpark.
Previous Houston Astros Stadiums
Another way Minute Maid Park differs greatly compared to its predecessor is the fact that the old Astrodome was considered one of the friendliest ballparks in which to pitch. Minute Maid Park ranks about average in terms of the rate of runs produced at the park. Despite featuring the largest distance to center field at 435 feet, this ballpark witnesses an above average ratio of home runs. Predictably, the canyon in center field has allowed hitters to slug triples at a top-five pace compared to other venues.
The Houston Astros went through a down season in 2014, with their home and road record ending up just about the same in terms of ineptitude. In 2015, the Astros have been extremely difficult to beat at home, winning nearly two-thirds of their games. Comparatively, their winning percentage on the road is sub-.400.
One of the most noticeable field landmarks, Tal’s Hill, is an adventure for center fielders because of the incline that they have to deal with. Recent plans suggest that the hill is likely to be moved in and the center field fence brought in to 409 feet. This will have the effect of making this park even more hitter-friendly, while reducing the torture experienced by opposing center fielders and adding more space for fans.
Date Opened: March 30, 2000
Construction Cost: $250 million
Architect: Populous; Molina & Associates
Ballpark Type: Retro Modern
Capacity Attendance: 41,574
Playing Surface: Platinum TE Paspalum
Previous Houston Astros Stadiums
Astrodome; Colt Stadium
Other Major Events
Historic World Series Games
The first-ever World Series game played in Texas was a match on October 25th, 2005, that featured the Astros lose to the White Sox by a score of 7-5 during a 14-inning game that took 5 hours and 41 minutes to complete, the longest in World Series history. Incredibly, the longest post season game took place 16 days earlier – an 18-inning affair that required 5 hours and 50 minutes to finish.
The 2006 CONCACAF Champions Cup visited Minute Maid Park on February 22nd, 2006, featuring Club America defeat Portmore United by a score of 2-1.
The Houston College Classic is a yearly college baseball showdown that involves six of the top teams from around the area. This event is typically considered as the unofficial kickoff for the college baseball season in the state.