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 atmosphere.

 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 half empty.
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 Arlington).
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.


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