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Monday, June 05, 2006 

Worth the Price of Admission...

This past Friday night my wife and I attended the Houston Astros game at Minute Maid park. The Stros got trashed but I still had a good time. This year I decided to go in on a season ticket package with a group of friends. We each get 15 games of two tickets each and the cool thing is that you actually get to know the people around you. It makes things alot more enjoyable. But the highlight of the game for me the other night?? It didn't even happen on the field although Ken Griffey Jr. had a pretty awesome catch. Nope the highlight that night was the stadium itself. Mintue Maid park is unique in that it has a retractable roof. Now this might not sound so impressive but just imagine being inside a large stadium and all of the sudden you see the huge roof moving! I was in awe! The Astros try to play most games with the roof open and so far this season all of the game had the roof open the entire time. This past Friday though it started to storm and so for the first time I got to see the roof close! It is so impressive to see something that big close in 7 minutes! I do have to admit though my is always telling me that I am very easily amused and you know what she is right! :)

Roof Open!

Roof Closed!

The Roof: Architects from the HOK Sports Facilities Group recommended early on that a retractable roof would be appropriate for the Texas climate. Since building the first retractable-roof ballpark - the Skydome in 1989 - designers have crafted several kinds of retractable roofs. Some, for instance, open only over a Small central section. The roof at Minute Maid Park, however, retracts completely off the ballpark to reveal the largest open area of any retractable roofed baseball stadium in existence today. A total of 50,000 square feet of glass in the west wall of the retractable roof give fans a view of the Houston skyline, even when the roof is in the closed position.

Uni-systems provided the technical expertise to design the best roof structure for Minute Maid Park. Mechanized roof panels open and close in 12-20 minutes. The roof moves back and forth an estimated 160 times a year, a distance of 14.6 miles. To cover the ballpark, steel panels roll in sequence along tracks on the east and west sides of the stadium. When the roof is open, the southern and northern panels, each of which measures 537 by 120 feet and weighs 1,905 metric tons, rest at the north end below the large middle section with its dimension of 589 by 242 feet and a weight of 3,810 metric tons. Designers determined the roof's shape - lower side panels flanking the high center panel - by tracking a batted baseball's hyperbolic flight path.

Forged steel wheels measuring 35 inches in diameter transport the three roof panels. Each of the 140 wheels has its own braking mechanics and 60 are equipped with electric motors.

If the track is slightly out of alignment, all the weight of a roof panel could come to rest on one wheel, causing severe structural damage. To prevent this, a polyurethane suspension pad that acts as a spring is attached above each wheel to distribute the roof's weight. The low track/high track configuration and the roof's built-in glass wall not only offer valuable efficiency, but afford a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape unlike any other roofed ballpark.

Here are some facts about the Park

Minute Maid Park: Facts and Figures


Distances from plate:
Left field - 315 feet
Left-center - 362 feet
Center field - 435 feet
Deepest point - 436 feet
Right-center - 373 feet
Right field - 326 feet

Height of wall:
Left field - 19 feet
Left-center - 25 feet
Center field - 10 feet
Deepest point - 10 feet
Right-center - 10 feet
Right field - 7 feet

TOTAL - 40,950
Diamond Club - 259
Field Boxes - 6,168
Crawford Boxes - 763
Bullpen Boxes - 2,326
Center Field Patio - 74
Club Level - 4,776
Mezzanine - 2,337
Suite Level - 918
Terrace Deck - 3,316
Upper Deck - 9,131
Outfield Deck - 1,677

Gross Square Footage - 28.97 acres

Total Square Footage - 1,263,240 square feet

Building Height - 93 feet

The year 2000 saw something the grand old game of baseball had not experienced since 1964 - a Major League team in Houston playing on natural grass outdoors. While clear skies and real grass were welcome additions for fans, Bayou City hardball faithful also enjoyed another first in Minute Maid Park's 242-foot high, retractable roof. Fans approved the new ballpark overwhelmingly, resulting in a record of more than 3,000,000 fans through the Minute Maid Park turnstiles in the 2000 season. The club has welcomed almost 6,000,000 visitors in the facility’s two seasons of play.

A jewel in the crown of the majestic downtown Houston skyline, Minute Maid Park has become a welcome home for the Houston Astros and has ushered in a new era of Major League sports in the city. The downtown ballpark continues the proud tradition of visionary innovation in stadium construction, beginning with the club's previous home - the Astrodome. Minute Maid Park's retractable roof technology brought open-air baseball to Houston for the first time in 35 years, and the natural grass surface and classic architecture provided Minute Maid Park the atmosphere of the great ballparks of baseball's Golden age.

Location: Minute Maid Park is located at 501 Crawford Street on the northeast end of downtown Houston. Situated near the George R. Brown Convention Center, the ballpark is located one block west of U.S. 59 and is bounded by Congress Avenue on the north, Texas Avenue on the South, Crawford Street on the west and Hamilton Street on the east.

Architect: HOK Sports Facilities Group. Construction Manager: Brown & Root Services, a business unit of Halliburton Company.

History: The idea for a public-private financing drive for a downtown Houston ballpark was conceived in 1996. Fourteen leading Houston companies joined together to form the Houston Sports Facility Partnership. The Partnership agreed to provide a $35 million interest-free loan with no repayment due until 10 years of ballpark operation. With the Partnership's initial commitment, the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority had the support it needed to present a ballpark proposal to the public in November 1996. Voters approved the $250 million project.

Union Station: According to HOK's design platform, the most literal tie between Houston's past and its new ballpark is a physical line to Union Station. The building is a symbol of the important role the railroad has played in the city's relatively short history, especially early in the 20th century. The director of Minute Maid Park's identity and graphics takes its cue from this period.

The railroad created Houston. Flourishing trade established a base of wealth and culture, an infrastructure of banks, a port and railheads. By 1910, railroads constituted the city's largest industry. In 1911, Union Station - already key to the rail industry's growth and influence - was redesigned and reopened.

Built at a cost of $500,000 at the corner of Texas Avenue and Crawford Street, Union Station was dedicated on March 2, 1911. It has been estimated that between 7,000-10,000 Houstonians passed through its front doors at the 45-foot-high lobby, which included three varieties of polished marble. By the mid-1940's, Union Station was handling 5,000 travelers daily on 36 passenger trains.

Team officials note that approximately 60 percent of fans enter Minute Maid Park via Union Station. Union Station's lobby features The Shed, the Official Astros Team Store and a café. Walk-up or booked Minute Maid Park tours, offered year-round, also begin in the Union Station lobby.

The second and third floors comprise the Conference Center, open 365 days a year and providing a wide array of meeting rooms that can provide businesses and organizations with state-of-the-art facilities. Nestled in different areas of the ballpark are additional meeting rooms and areas that provide the perfect atmosphere for a meeting or luncheon.

First Games: The Houston Astros and New York Yankees played an exhibition game on March 30, 2000, with Houston winning 6-5. The Astros hosted the Philadelphia Phillies in the first official regular-season game on April 7, 2000, with Philadelphia winning 4-1.

Name: On June 5, 2002, the Houston Astros and The Minute Maid Company announced that they had expanded their relationship to create a long-term marketing and community partnership. The multi-year partnership agreement included naming rights for the downtown ballpark, rechristening the field "Minute Maid Park."

The partnership agreement also stipulated that the popular Minute Maid Squeeze Play attraction at the ballpark will continue for the length of the 28-year agreement, along with pouring rights for products of The Coca-Cola Company, ongoing advertising and marketing programs, and a commitment by Minute Maid to support youth baseball programs in the Houston area.

Houston's downtown ballpark was originally named Enron Field on April 7, 1999, and was renamed Astros Field on February 27, 2002, by agreement of the Houston Astros and Enron Corp.

The Minute Maid Company is an operating unit of The Coca-Cola Company and the flagship of its worldwide fruit beverage business. The Minute Maid Company has been headquartered in Houston since 1967.

Train: A replica of a 19th century locomotive (circa 1860) and linked coal tender became a fast fan favorite in the inaugural season. The train provides an architectural icon which combines sight, sound and motion for a dynamic entertainment and celebration feature. It also proves a link to the past for Houston and the Union Station site. The train was designed by Uni-systems and built by SMI & Hydraulics, which also provided the transporters for the retractable roof. Weighing close to 50,000 pounds, the train runs along some 800 feet along the low roof track on the west side of the ballpark.

Although, I can appreciate your appreciation of the roof...this stings me just a bit. In college, I was in a continual debate with a Houston boy about which park was better: The Ballpark in Arlington or Minute Maid. The roof is definitely cool, but the Ballpark is just beautiful! I have been to both and I really didn't like Minute Maid. The roof didn't move while I was there, so maybe I would have a different opinion if it had. I'm glad you had fun! Visit the Ballpark and watch the Rangers WIN! (But you will need to bring an umbrella if it rained...no cool roof.)


I too have seen the roof move and it is ways cool. As for the Minute Maid v Ameriquest Field debate... I would have given it to the Rangers before they sold their souls to corporate sponsorship. Now, I'd say it's a push.

I'm a true home-town team fan...to the core. I do think that the roof is a very cool feature. I wish that Ameriquest Field had one. When I was at Minute Maid, I just didn't behold the beauty that that I see at the Ballpark. I didn't mean to belittle your thoughts on M.M. I just like to start debates when it comes to sports. :)

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About me

  • I'm Michael Potthoff
  • From Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
  • My name is Michael Potthoff and I am 27 years old. I was raised in League City, Texas (close to Houston) I have a beautiful, godly wife name Ruth who makes me a better man! I have been in ministry close to 5 years now and Jesus Christ is my passion. Preaching His good news is something that I truly love! I am blessed to be able to do something that I truly love.
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