Submitted By: Henry Grade: B
Pros of the ballpark: The park is very nice. It's very
intimate, actually. The field is very close to the stands and you
get a view of the field at every point on the main concourse level.
Standing on the porches in left center provides a very cool view of
the field. The roof was closed, but it still felt like a baseball
field. But the view of the downtown skyline is pretty impressive, as
is the train. I liked the tributes to all the legends of the Astros,
from Craig Biggio's march to 3000 hits to displaying every one of
Jeff Bagwell's home runs. The park contains lots of places to get
food and drinks. I spent a week in Houston and I can't tell you how
great it was to stay in a 70-degree climate-controlled environment
for three hours.
Cons of the ballpark: My seats in section 225 of the
Mezzanine level were very accessible from the concourse, though I
would find out later that the view couldn't allow me to see fly
balls that went into right field. Right fielders for that day --
Luke Scott and Shawn Green of the Mets -- would disappear on balls
to the warning track and I'd have to use the crowd's reaction to
determine whether it was an out or not. Parking is a hassle, if you
can find your way to the park from the multitude of freeways Houston
has. I paid 20 bucks for a surface lot and I suspect that the closer
you get to the park, the more expensive it will be. There is no
other alternative but to drive, though. I didn't like all of the
advertising, including some weird promotion from Chick-Fil-A on the
foul poles and if someone hit a home run on the foul pole, everyone
got a free sandwich. What the heck is that about? And it just makes
the foul poles look ridiculous.
Additional Comments: Loved the rendition of "Deep in the
Heart of Texas" in the 7th inning stretch. Minute Maid Park's
outfield is just weird. There's the Crawford Boxes in left, a weird
angle that leads into the home bullpen in left center, Tal's Hill in
center, which is 436 feet from the plate, the visitors' bullpen on a
curve in right. It's like something cooked up out of Dr.
Frankenstein's lab. I did wish they opened the roof just so I could
experience outdoor baseball in Houston and see what it was like,
though I heard it gets hot in the park due to the city's
never-ending summer heat. The park promotes cheap baseball, as
Carlos Beltran hit a 310-foot opposite field homer into the Crawford
Boxes in left, which is cake for most hitters.
Submitted By: Stephen Tamm Grade: A
Pros of the ballpark: It is a brand new ball park so it's
still a nice clean stadium. There are lots of attractions within
the stadium to keep you entertained. There is good food and plenty
beer if you're wallet is fat. The best part is the attitude of the
fans, the ushers and vendors. Everybody comes to have a good time
so you don't have to worry about catching too much attitude from
anybody, like you might at some stadiums like Angel stadium. HPD
has plenty of presence to keep everything under control. The area
is great too. It's right in downtown so there is plenty restaurants
and bars within walking distance of the stadium. The retractable
roof is great. Alot of times it's 100 degrees at game time so the
air conditioning keeps you cool. When it cools off around the end
of the game the roof opens and you catch that nice evening breeze
and fresh air.
Cons of the ballpark: The one thing that bothers me with the
new stadiums is the new seats. The seating is crowded (as it is
anywhere). I miss the old Astrodome seating. Minute Maid park
doesn't give you that overwhelming Astros presence like the Dome
did. If you don't know the Houston area very well good luck finding
somewhere to park.
Additional Comments: When the ballpark first opened most of
us old Astros fans didn't know what to think. Of course we all
missed the Dome. My first time trip to the stadium was a couple
games into the opening season. It was a whole new experience. Beer
was in plastic bottles and the new atmosphere was like being at a
road game. It's a great place to catch a ball game though. Great
people, air conditioned, and a great look. Very relaxing
Submitted By: Neil Anderson Grade: A
Pros of the ballpark: The best new ballpark I've seen yet!
Wow! I was not expecting much, as the outside really isn't much to
shake a stick at. Entering through Union Station was nice. It is
big, spacious and climate controlled. Once inside the park, there
are many features that catch the eye. The train over the left field
bleachers has a nostalgic feel. Tal's Hill, the sloped hill in
center field, adds a unique element to the game. I saw Lance Berkman
make an incredible play on the hill during my visit. That play gave
me a good perspective of how challenging that hill can be to
opposing outfielders. It is a spacious outfield in the power alleys,
but very short down the right/left field lines. The tall scoreboard
in left is very nice. Standing there for BP, we actually hung over
the field. The gas pump out in Center Field is a nice place to
gather and watch the action. The scoreboard is nice, and the
jumbotron was crystal clear with excellent sound.
Cons of the ballpark: There is so much brick (which looks
good), but way too much concrete and drab colored steel in the area
surrounding the scoreboards. It kind of contrasts the rest of the
park, but it is minor compared to all the positives about the place.
Additional Comments: I've been to a handful of parks and this
is my favorite by far! I live quite a ways from Houston, but would
absolutely go back.
Submitted By: John Bassett Grade: A
Pros of the ballpark: Quite Possibly the Best Looking
Ballpark in the Majors.
Cons: Promotes Home Run Happy
Baseball, Atmosphere not quite up to the par of the northeast or
south side Chicago ballparks
Additional Comments: Before visiting this stadium in person,
I despised the place and all it represented, namely home run happy
baseball. Now, after visiting it, and although I'm still no fan of
the brand of baseball it promotes, I would rate Astros Field as the
third best ballpark currently inhabited by a major league club. They
say that general design of the whole place was supposed to be
inspired by the Railroad Industry in general but, asides from the
restored Union Station entrance, I'm not sure I see this reflected
in the facade of the building, which is unique to say the least.
It's certainly not another red-brick, Coors Field-esque exterior. To
tell the truth, it's so bizarre looking that I can't imagine what
the inspiration for it could have been. I'm not even sure I would
have recognized it as a baseball stadium if I hadn't known what to
expect. But it definitely works and I definitely like it. Once you
enter the facility the railroad theme becomes much more obvious. The
restored Union Station with it's high arches is beautiful inside.
Virtually all of the concession stands have railroad-inspired names
and the food they served was actually pretty decent. The Crawford
boxes make for the best batting practice experience you will get at
any location in any stadium in the big leagues. You are constantly
peppered with home runs. I went on a cool-for-Texas, early-April
evening so the retractable dome was rolled back but even so, saying
it was completely unitrusive when rolled back is light years more
than you can say when you're visiting either Phoenix or Milwaukee
under the same circumstances. Another knock commonly heard about the
place was it being too "gimmicky" ... the train atop the left field
wall really didn't scream out for attention, neither did Tal's Hill.
I think it all fits in very nicely. Being used to New York baseball
it doesn't strike me as odd to find the fans anywhere outside of the
northeast or the south side of Chicago as tame. But even though the
fans in Houston were something less that demonstrative they did seem
fairly knowledgeable and the atmosphere, in all, was pretty good. I
think this may very well be the best looking park in baseball but
because of the superior atmospheres at Camden Yards and Pac Bell
Park, Astros Field comes in third on my list.
Submitted By: Cliff W. Grade: A
Pros of the ballpark: Beautiful design inside and out. It has
lots of features that make the game more interesting like Tal's Hill
and the flag pole in play in center field, and the Crawford Boxes in
left field. Great views from all sections and levels.. One of the
best features though is the retractable roof. The summer heat in
Houston can be unbearable, but the weather in the spring can be
awesome. To be able to accommodate both is invaluable. I have been
to many ballparks in milder climates and found myself wishing for a
roof and A/C, especially during day games in the summer. The food is
pretty good and parking and access is not nearly as difficult as
many people make it out to be. If you know where to look, you can
even find free parking on weekends. Also, being downtown, it is very
easy to find a great bar or restaurant to hang out at before or
after the game. Oh ya, natural grass in Houston(the birthplace of
Astroturf) is hard to get used to, but it's great.
Cons: parking, expensive concessions
Cons of the ballpark: Ticket prices seem to keep going up
every year. Also it is hard to get good seats at the box office
because ticket scalpers buy so many season tickets. When no one buys
the over priced tickets from the scalpers, it leaves the ballpark
Additional Comments: I might be a biased 'Stros fan, but I
have yet to find a ballpark that offers as much as Astros Field and
is as beautiful, practical and comfortable. Thank god they tossed
that Enron name. I wish they wouldn't sell the naming rights this
time, but they will get more from the next sponsor than the $100
million they were supposed to get from Enron.
Submitted By: Dan Hawkins Grade: A
Pros of the ballpark: Air conditioning is always a plus with
Houston's humidity. Being able to have that with a natural grass
field is pretty cool. They had the roof closed when I was there,
but with the glass behind left field, it almost didn't feel like we
were indoors. I say almost because the sound of the bat hitting the
ball still sounds different under a roof. My four-year-old loved
the train. And I love the old-time dimensions of the outfield,
short down the line, but deep in center (436 feet). The scoreboard
was also nice. And for being downtown, I was able to park really
close to the ballpark, and traffic wasn't too bad (better than in
Cons of the ballpark: I'm not sure what the purpose of Tal's
Hill is, but it never came into play during the game. I don't know
whether I like it or not.
Additional Comments: This is a big improvement over the
Astrodome. This ballpark does illustrate the absurdity of the
current practice of selling naming rights. The place has had three
names now, and it's only in its fifth season.
Submitted By: Cole Grade: A
Pros of the ballpark: WOW! This ballpark has everything. Its
got a retractable roof yet you still feel like your outside. Its
fairly big in terms of size, but its still very quaint. Much like
Camden Yards with the downtown view. I also find it amazing how
close you feel to the field in every seat. In the upper deck you
have a great view. Yet their is still about 43,000 max in this park.
I love the crawford boxes. I love every seat in this park!
Specialties in the park include a train, a hill in play, the giant
scoreboard, the flagpole in play, and it is also the first ballpark
to have a visual announcement board for deaf and hard of hearing
fans. But all these specialties fit in with everything perfectly.
The train doesn't call attention to it self at all.
Cons of the ballpark: Food expensive, 9.00 for nacho supreme
which is not that great!
Additional Comments: I can't say this is the best ballpark
yet but it's certainly in the top 5. Their are so many more parks
like PNC Park, SBC Park, and Camdon Yards which I also like.