The 2016 baseball season ended and the powers that be at Minute Maid park decided the stadium needed a little bit of a facelift.
While all of us know the captivating smell of fresh cut grass and the patriotic bunting hanging from every rafter which reminds us that baseball season is here, there will be some new touches to 501 Crawford Street that should provide not only a more enjoyable experience for the fans, but also a safer experience.
You may hate me for this, but the thing was an eyesore and I am glad it is gone. A flag pole, in play, on a hill, in centerfield is just goofy in my mind. I was at a game in 2003 where Richie Sexson absolutely belted a ball to dead center, it was a home run for sure, but alas, it hit the flag pole in center field and remained in play.
Sure that helped the Astros at that moment, but there is something about a massive novelty robbing a man of a home run instead of an overly athletic play by an outfielder that does not sit well with me.
With the removal of Tal’s Hill, centerfield will go from 436 ft (largest in baseball) to 409 ft (sixth-furthest in baseball).
Fear not Tal Smith faithful, you can own a piece of history for only $25. When visiting the ballpark be sure to swing into the team store where you can purchase the dirt removed from the hill.
Torchy’s Tacos & Shake Shack
Torchy’s Tacos and Shake Shack will be in the area where Tal’s Hill once stood. This brings new concession options to visitors other than your standard ball park food. If you hit up Torchy’s, I recommend “The Democrat”, it is delicious and you will not be disappointed.
With these new dining options, the new center field area will include additional seating, more concession options, and new escalators and elevators for fans.
On Wednesday, the Astros confirmed plans that will expand the nets that run behind the backstop to the length of both dugouts. This falls in line with many other ballparks over the last two years in an effort to better protect the fans from broken bats and foul balls.
Many critics are arguing that this will obstruct the view for fans along those dugouts; however in a world where we are increasingly on our smart phones or tablets instead of paying attention to what is in front of us, the MLB is taking these precautions to prevent any unfortunate fan injuries. In 2014, 1,750 fans were injured by foul balls and bad throws across the MLB, according to Bloomberg News.
All of these new features for the ball park are great for the fans and players. Whether you love them of hate them is indifferent compared to on-field product, which also received a major face lift. The biggest and most notable improvement will still be the offense, which is projected to be one of the best in baseball.