The renovation would include improved seating options, new food and beverage options, the addition of escalators to improve fan access and revisions to the playing field including the removal of Tal's Hill.
Since Jim Crane's group purchased the ballclub, the Astros have renovated the Diamond Club, main concourse and Mazda Club Level, installed a state-of-the art sound system, refurbished the player's clubhouse and workout facility and installed new grass on the playing field. The additional $15 million investment in the 2016 new and improved center field would be another exciting update that showcases the commitment to making Minute Maid Park a great destination for fans of all ages by providing a modern, communal gathering place for fans to enjoy before and during games all season long.
The design of the new center field area was in partnership with MSA Sport and influenced by feedback from fans, current and former players and front office personnel. Astros executives also visited over 20 MLB parks in the Center Field Project planning process.
"We are extremely excited about our plans for center field, and are confident that our fans will be as well," said Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan. "Our goal will be to create a unique and entertaining atmosphere for our fans that will include great happy hour spots and spectacular views. It will also be visual, giving the ballpark an exciting, new look."
"The renovation of center field represents a significant improvement of the fan experience while maintaining the integrity of the game," said Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow. "The new center field will not only be great for fans, but will make Minute Maid Park an attractive ballpark for current and future players as well."
"A lot of thought went into the planning and design of the new center field," said Astros legend and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. "I am confident that the Astros had the best interests of the fans and the players in mind at each step of the way."
- The current center field distance of 436 feet would move to 409 feet, moving Minute Maid Park from the deepest center distance to the sixth-farthest in the league.
- The seating capacity of Minute Maid Park would remain essentially the same, with improved visibility for fans to enjoy the game from center field.
- The renovation of center field would result in a total of three new bar locations, four additional food locations and a premium group seating area at field level, creating the first and only field-level seating area available at Minute Maid Park.
Included are some initial drawings and concepts. The Astros will also create an opportunity on www.astros.com for fans to watch the progress of the build from October through Opening Day. Once the renovation project is complete, the Astros will host a special unveiling ceremony prior to the 2016 Home Opener. Additional details and information, including ticket and sponsorship opportunities, will be revealed as renovation details are finalized. The team remains focused on the 2015 season and would begin renovation efforts following the completion of the current season.
MSA serves as the lead architecture firm for the project, while Manhattan Construction Company is the construction management partner. Initial bid packages will be distributed beginning June 8. Interested parties can reach out to Jason Fuller, Project Director for Manhattan Construction, at email@example.com.
"We are proud to partner with the Houston Astros as they continue to maintain and upgrade Minute Maid Park," said J. Kent Friedman, Chairman of the Board of the Harris County - Houston Sports Authority. "We will work with the Astros as they put the finishing touches on this project and finalize the details and approvals required to bring this concept to life for the City of Houston."
"We are extremely grateful for the cooperation and support from The Harris County- Houston Sports Authority, the City of Houston, Major League Baseball, Aramark, MSA and Manhattan," Ryan said. "The partnerships from these organizations have enabled us to ensure that we can continue to provide new and improved reasons for our fans to enjoy a game at Minute Maid Park."
- Why are you removing Tal's Hill, and what are you doing to honor Tal Smith once it is removed?
Tal Smith made great contributions to the Astros organization, and we are currently vetting ideas on how best to recognize him in a new way. The removal of Tal's Hill provides the Astros with multiple opportunities to improve the fan experience which is a key priority for us.
- Why is the team spending money on renovating the ballpark vs. players?
Since Jim Crane's ownership group took control of the team, we have consistently invested both on and off the field and will continue to do so. The Center Field Project is a one-time infrastructure investment for our fans, current and future, and will also make Houston an attractive city and team for future players.
The Astros are committed to making Minute Maid Park a destination all generations can enjoy, and there is no better time than the present to start making those improvements. Additionally, Houston's downtown area is experiencing a rejuvenation of its own, and we are proud to assist in that effort.
- When can I start reserving tickets for the new center field area?
Once approved, we will begin accepting deposits for this area for group buyers. Individual tickets will be available for purchase in the spring of 2016. Those interested in reserving their group tickets can call 1-800-ASTROS2.