Minute Maid Park is a retractable roof stadium in Houston, Texas, United States. It opened in 2000 as the home of the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball. It has a capacity of 41,168 seats, including 5,197 club seats and 63 luxury suites.

The stadium has a natural grass pitch. It was built to replace the Astrodome, the first domed sports stadium ever built, which opened in 1965.


An illustration of Union Station, 1913
With an original estimated cost of $1 million, Union Station was built by the American Construction Company for a total of five times that amount. Exterior walls were made of granite, limestone and terracotta, while the interior used a large amount of marble. It was completed and dedicated on March 1, 1911. At the time, Houston, with 17 railroads, was considered the most important railroad hub in the southern United States. This is also evident on the Seal of Houston, which features a prominent locomotive. Two more floors were added the following year.

The station then served as the main intercity passenger terminal for Houston for more than seven decades. Railroad passenger traffic declined sharply after World War II and the last regular train, the Lone Star, moved to what is now Amtrak’s Houston station on July 31, 1974. With this move, the building also became office space only for HB&T. such as the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

Union Station and the pre-ballpark era

Main article: Union Station (Houston)
In 1909, at a time when West End Park was Houston’s main residential area, the Houston Belt and Terminal Railway Company commissioned the design of a new union station for the city by New York City-based architects Warren and Wetmore. The site required the demolition of several of Houston’s structures. Among other things, Horace Baldwin Rice’s home and Adath Yeshurun’s synagogue were removed.

On November 10, 1977, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service.

Plan and finance

In August 1995, Astros owner Drayton McLane, who was then leasing the Astrodome from Harris County, indicated to the Houston Chronicle that he was not looking for a new ballpark. Regarding Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium and Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, McLane commented, “[…] I remember they were built in the 1970s and they were as good stadiums as there were. They were the most modern stadiums in the world. , and now they saying they’re all bad. That they can’t do without a new stadium. That helps, but there are other things involved.”[20]

Later that year, Houston’s NFL franchise and co-tenant of the Astrodome, the Houston Oilers, announced that they would be moving to Nashville, Tennessee to build a new stadium for the team. Citing the lack of enough luxury boxes, Astros vice president Bob McClaren claimed in October that renovations to the Astrodome would help increase revenue. Drayton McLane pointed to the Astrodome’s renovation where it was necessary, saying “It’s 30 years old and not a lot of money has gone into rebuilding it.” According to the organization, the team was in danger of being sold to a Virginia businessman who was expected to move the Astros to the Washington DC area due to poor revenue.

In June 1996, University of Houston alumnus, owner of BMC Software and San Diego Padres John J. Moores, who wanted to own the next NFL franchise in Houston, met with Texas State Senator Mario Gallegos, Jr., and other local Hispanic leaders regarding the future of a football-based Astrodome and a new ballpark in downtown Houston. Meanwhile, Harris County Judge Robert Eckels came up with a plan to build a new ballpark next to the Astrodome in the Astrodomain. The Astros echoed Astrodomain’s positional sense because they believed the build time would be shorter. Eckels, who convinced then-Mayor Bob Lanier of the lack of viability of the baseball field in a central location, said, “They keep telling me about these miracles in other cities, but it doesn’t work in Houston […] If we want to put it here arena somewhere, let’s stick with a proven venue that would be funded by the Astros.

Exterior of Minute Maid Park at the intersection of Crawford Street and Texas Avenue
In August 1996, Union Station in Houston received a $2 million grant from the Texas Transportation Commission for renovation in a separate project. Plans for the new ballpark site changed dramatically in September, largely in response to input from Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay and a promise of a significant contribution to the financing if it was built downtown. It was at this time that Lay proposed the site of Union Station. After an agreement between all governing bodies, the idea of a retractable roof stadium for the new baseball stadium was confirmed. A referendum was planned for Harris County residents in November to approve the deal.

The November 5, 1996 Harris County referendum on ballpark funding passed by a narrow margin of 51% to 49%. In response to the referendum, Senator John Whitmire of Houston sponsored a bill in the 75th Texas Legislature, supported by five of the six Harris County senators in the area, that would create the Harris County-Houston Board of Athletics. The accompanying House Bill 92, authored by Kim Brimer of Houston, was passed and passed by both chambers, authorizing the creation of a sports agency. It was signed by Governor George W. Bush on June 2, 1997.[32] The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority would help finance the new ballpark and facilitate the renovation of the Astrodome by allowing special county taxation for rental cars, tickets, parking and hotel use.

In June 1997, with the possibility of creating a sports authority, simultaneous votes were passed by the Harris County Commissioners’ Court and the Houston City Council to create the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority effective September 1, 1997. [33] The chairman and 12 other directors were appointed jointly by the mayor of Houston and the Harris County judge. The facility still exists today.

The ballpark was named “Enron Field” after a 30-year, $100 million naming rights agreement was signed with Enron on April 7, 1999. Following the 2001 Enron scandal, the Astros and the now-bankrupt Enron agreed to end the deal and rename the stadium in February 2002.

design and build

Early stadium sketches by HOK Sport in Kansas City (now Populous), with the working title “The Ballpark at Union Station”, were released to the public on October 11, 1996, with Astros president Tal Smith speaking candidly about his proposals for the arena. including the position of the flagpole at center field and a traditional dirt path from the pitcher’s mound to home plate. Although the dirt path was not implemented, the flagpole idea became known as “Tal’s Hill” and remained a distinctive feature of the ballpark through 2016.

The new park’s design incorporated the main concourse of the former Union Station building, transforming the space into a clubhouse, cafe, team store and office space. A large model railway was also integrated into the design of the park as a tribute to the station.

In late 1997, it was announced that local Brown & Root would lead construction of the stadium, while Populous would design it with Walter P. Moore. Minute Maid Park retractable roof electrification was developed by VAHLE, Inc.

The groundbreaking ceremony for The Ballpark at Union Station was held on October 30, 1997. The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Enron CEO Kenneth Lay, Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, Astros owner Drayton McLane, Harris County Judge Robert Eckles, Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee and Harris County Commissioner Jack Rains, chairman of the Houston Sports Authority.

Statues of longtime Astros players Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio line the outside of the stadium in an area known as The Plaza at Minute Maid Park. The two former teammates play baseball together. The Plaza also displays pennants for all of the Astros’ division and league championships, as well as two World Series titles. There are also several plaques commemorating notable Astros and their achievements.

Opening and current use

The ballpark was first named “Enron Field” on April 7, 2000, with the naming rights sold to Houston Energy and Financial Trading Company in a 30-year, $100 million deal. However, Astros management faced a public relations problem when the energy company went bankrupt in 2001 due to a financial scandal. Astro ownership quickly distanced itself from Enron and asked for an early termination of the naming rights, but Enron refused. On February 5, 2002, the Astros estate filed a motion in corporate bankruptcy court to compel Enron to make an immediate decision on the matter. On February 27, the two companies agreed to give up the naming rights and settled with the Astros paying Enron $2.1 million. Without a naming contract, the ballpark became officially known as “Astros Field”.

The Astros sold the naming rights to the arena to local Coca-Cola subsidiary Minute Maid in 2002 for $100 million over 30 years. The official name was then changed to Minute Maid Park.

In 2004, the Astros introduced stadium-wide Wi-Fi, allowing fans to use the internet for a fee while attending a game. Additionally, the ballpark was the first major sports facility to use a separate video card solely for captioning PA systems and video card content for the hearing impaired, rather than appearing at the bottom of the main scoreboard.

The baseball park in 2010, before the right field changes in 2011
In 2006, the Chick-fil-A cows were unveiled on the ground with the words EAT MOR FOWL and the cows wearing Astros hats. When an Astros player hits the post, all fans in attendance will receive a coupon for a free chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A. Hunter Pence is the first and second Astros player to ever hit the “birdie pole” in left field when he did so twice in the 2007 season. Ty Wigginton was the third Astro to hit the left field pole on September 16, 2007.

After the 2008 season, the Astros’ groundskeepers began laying 2.3 acres (9,300 m2) of new turf at Minute Maid Park.

The old screen was taken out and replaced with signs. A smaller HD screen has also been added to the far left of the outfield wall. The ring of advertising screens around the park has been replaced with HD ribbon signs. Signs with the previous logo and colors have also been replaced. More than 17,000 liters of paint were used and over 1,000 signs were replaced. In addition, mezzanine sections 256, 257 and 258 would be removed.


The company was originally founded in 1945 as Florida Foods, Inc, and later became Vacuum Foods Corporation.[3] It employs more than 1,900 people and has sales of more than $2 billion (1997 estimate).[4]


2000 St. James Place, the former headquarters of Minute Maid, in Houston, Texas Maid

The first shipment was made in April 1946. That same month, the company was renamed Vacuum Foods Corporation. [3] With limited advertising resources, Fox himself went door-to-door, handing out free samples until demand soared The newspaper article gave more details:

With little money to advertise, it lost $450,262 in its first two years. The years finally turned the corner John M. Fox, president of Vacuum, says, “Well, this orange juice thing is the wonder of the grocery world. Ask anybody.” Everyone in the frozen food industry agreed — and Birds Eye, Snow Crop and others began marketing their own concentrates.

In October 1949, the company took the name Minute Maid Corp.[4] on. In late 1954, Minute Maid purchased competitor Snow Crop.

The Minute Maid company was purchased by Coca-Cola in 1960.[4]

In 1967, Minute Maid moved to Houston, Texas, and formed the Coca-Cola Foods division with Duncan Foods. [8] The United Farm Workers stepped in to support the workers. NBC addressed the issue in a 1970 documentary called Chet Huntley’s Migrant: An NBC White Paper.[9] In response to bad press and a boycott in Florida, the company initiated a program to improve workers’ conditions.

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