Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 10:54AM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 12:16PM
Minute Maid Park
Houston, Tex. :: Opened: 2000 :: Capacity: 45,950
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Average Ticket Price: $26.66
Average Cost of Concessions and Souvenirs: $86.00
How expensive is stadium parking? FREE: 6% $5-$10: 45% $10-$15: 36% $15-$20: 8% More than $20: 2%
Is public transportation a viable option? Never: 39% Worth it if you have a lot of time and patience: 31% A good option to avoid rush hour: 10% Pretty easy if you know the system well: 17% The only way to go: 2%
How would you rate traffic getting to and from the game? To the game: A slow-moving parking lot: 1% Slow, but usually steady: 11% Moves well outside of rush hour: 41% Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 30% A smooth ride at all times: 15%
From the game: A slow-moving parking lot: 6% Slow, but usually steady: 26% Moves well outside of rush hour: 21% Aside from the occasional bottleneck, it's good: 37% A smooth ride at all times: 8%
How would you rate the number of restrooms for men and women? Bring a map: 1% It depends on the section: 5% Never more than a short walk away: 24% A satisfactory amount: 45% Plenty: 36%
How long is the wait to use a bathroom? Always available: 54% 1-5 minutes: 40% 5-10 minutes: 1% More than 10 minutes: 1%
How would you rate the variety of food/beer concession options? Limp hot dogs, bland peanuts, even blander beer: 2% Nothing fancy, but the staple foods are tasty: 6% A little variety of food and drinks available at specific locations: 22% A nice variety but locations are spread out: 32% You name it, they have it around almost every corner: 35%
How much will a meal at the ballpark cost you? $5-$10: 16% $10-$20: 67% $20-$30: 14% $30-$40: 1% More than $40: 1%
How would you rate the entertainment options aside from the game? Nonexistent: 1% So many games/promotions and scoreboard highlights that the game is lost in the background: 3% Typical mascot antics/scoreboard quizzes and fun music: 38% Some unique promotions/antics, but it sometimes distracts from the game: 10% A nice balance that draws your attention when the game is stopped but doesn't distract from the action on the field: 45%
Built at the site of a former train station, Minute Maid does "a nice job of capturing the uniqueness of the site," epitomized by the replica train that rides along the wall of the park beyond the outfield. Paired with the hill and flagpole in center field, the lights and buzzers throughout the park lend a "hokey" feel to the stadium but "always offers a good time." A retractable roof not only ensures that rain won't be a problem but also offers a "fantastic" view of downtown Houston through its oversized windows. Not a team to miss an opportunity to sell advertising, the Astros have seemingly sold every piece of real estate, including Landry's Crawford boxes (a section of seats in the outfield) and the Chick-Fil-A "Fowl Poles." "In general, the fans are very tame. A lot just enjoy watching the game and not being loud." Perhaps they are contemplating eating at one of the sit-down restaurants that ring the stadium or heading over to Blaylock's Grill to grab a hot dog with peppers and onions.
"If you can afford a nice steak, go to Vic & Anthony's across the street" from the park. "Make sure you have reservations." The Union Station Rooftop and Clubhouse "is always a place to grab a drink and people-watch before and after the games" while the Inn at the Ballpark has baseball-themed rooms. Five minutes away is Main Street, which has even more.
2006 record: 70-72 (all statistics through Sept. 10) Players worth the price of admission: Lance Berkman (.312 Avg., 39 HRs, 120 RBIs), Roy Oswalt (12-8, 3.15 ERA, 145 Ks)
Yeah, Minute Maid Park is a little over-the-top with the train and advertising affixed on almost every inch of real estate, but it seems to work. And if fans don't mind driving through some sticky traffic to watch a game in a park in which you don't have to broil in the Texas heat, who are we to argue? If you can't sell tradition, why not sell comfort?