Sunday, October 10, 2010



Written by: Mike in DA
Date posted: 10/10/2010

The Astros announced this past week that they are going to overhaul 11-year old Minute Maid Park with its first major renovations, as follows:

- A nearly 7,000-square-foot high-definition video board with a new screen that will be 54 feet tall by 124 feet wide, making it the second largest in MLB (smaller than only Kansas City's more vertical board). The original scoreboard was state-of-the-art when the ballpark opened as Enron Field in 2000, but as so often happens with state-of-the-art, it passed through that phase.

- A video board high above left field, which will provide a way for fans in the right field seats to see a video display.

- A space at the back of the first level behind home plate designed to be a trendier offshoot of the elite Diamond Club level. There will be about a 175-seat young-adult-oriented section. To make room for the club seating at the back of the first level, the writers' press box, which also houses the official scorer, public address announcer, and some Astros staff, will relocate to the second level. It will be adjacent to the broadcasters' area.

- Expansion of the ribbon board - the long thin scoreboard that currently stretches roughly 100 feet on the seating facade along the first base line and another 100 along the third base line. The new plan calls for 1,000 feet of continuous ribbon board, which will be used for statistics, advertising, and rallying fans.

Although the Astros don’t own Minute Maid - they lease it from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority - they will take on all the cost of the project, estimated between $10 to $13 million.

The renovations are expected to be completed by opening day in 2011.

The story of the renovations by Zack Levine can be found at

Let’s go to the phones to hear what the callers have to say on this.

Ephus, you’re on:
“I hope they upgrade the dinky old TV's in the concourses too - can't barely see the action while waiting in the long concession lines. All the other stadiums I've been to recently have nice large flat panels to make your wait more tolerable.”

Justin, you’re on:
“Oh, I thought they meant upgrade the players. Investing in the team seems a bit more important to me than adding flat screen high-definition TV to the stadium”

Tex, you’re on:
"Yes, sir, We need those extra seats for all those fans coming to the ballpark...... well I guess you need to upgrade the park to attract a major league baseball team, after the Astros move to the new AAA park in Sugarland.”

Fargo, you’re on:
Does Uncle Drayton really think attendance will improve by adding hi-def? The current system is adequate to provide the additional visual element to the game. Fans come to the stadium to watch live baseball, not to watch television. If flat screen high-definition TV is a must for you to watch a baseball game, you might as well just choose to stay home. I also noticed that the concession stands will be greatly increased. Could this possibly be one of the ways for Drayton to pay for the unnecessary technical upgrades? I predict the already outrageously priced food to go even higher. If that’s the case, a lot more ATMs should be installed in the stadium, and perhaps a bank storefront office as well- one that could make instant loans to fans so that they could afford to attend the games.”

Rick, you’re on:
”I was surprised to read that the ball park is already 10 years old. It seems in great shape to me. Can’t say the same for the team. This means tickets will also go up another $10-$30 dollars each. So, who is paying for the upgrade in the long run? I understand the sports authority is defaulting on the bonds that built the play palaces. I guess the taxpayer of Harris County will be on the hook for some more. Disgusting!”

Ghost, you’re on:
"The article said attendance at Minute Maid Park has fallen drastically in recent years, with 3.02 million in 2007, 2.78 million in 2008, 2.52 million in 2009 and 2.33 million in 2010. Yes, I'm sure that the new scoreboards will solve this dilemma.”

TH, you’re on:
"Richard Justice wants to know if the relocation of the press box will affect the buffet line.”

Marty, you’re on:

"Frickin’ awesome! Now we can watch the Astros lose in HD!

Big Al, you’re on:
“They will make it as distracting to watch at the ballpark as it is at home on the TV screen with all the clutter of info panels surrounding what you are trying to focus on.”

Blindman, you’re on:
“Heck, it's not enough with the Kiss Cams, Salsa Packet Races, Whistle Blowing Ball Tossers, Dog Days, Macaroni & Cheese Eating Contests, etc, etc, etc? Now more fru-fru?? Please!!! Just spend some money on some ball players and put a good product on the field and you'll draw crowds."

Triple X, you’re on:
“Get off it Drayton!!! Why don't you cut the rip-off price of concessions at the park. Really do something for the FANS!!!

Wallet Man, you’re on::
“Putting a bow on a piece of feces doesn't make it smell any better.”

Aunt Esther, you’re on:

“God forbid we should spend money getting better players and coaches!”

Jack, you’re on::
“1,000 feet of continuous ribbon board !!! I can see it now. Non-stop advertisements. No thanks!”

 Forrest, you’re on:
"Screw that! How about letting us bring in our own most all other ballparks do!!! You'll still make a killing on beer sales alone!!!"

Red Raider Phil, you’re on:
"How about a "major upgrade" of the team on the field! Do that first and then we talk about other things such as...
1) Hooter girls guarding the foul lines
2) Drop the price of beer by four bucks
3) Allow tailgating
4) Get rid of the bleepin’ cows

Lloyd from London, you’re on:
“Shades of deja vu with the Oilers.....after we, the taxpayers were forced to spend millions to upgrade the Astrodome, what did the Oilers do? They left Houston & left us with the bill. Will the Astros do the same?”

Mr. Big, you’re on:
“I will try to rent the big screen, so that my son and his friends can play “Halo Reach” on it.”

Mr. Google, you’re on:
“What an interesting choice of words: "we needed this." And they needed it because other ballparks have them. This is exactly the same argument my 14-year old used to convince us that a Playstation 3 was essential to his survival.”

Gift Shop, you’re on:
“A new video scoreboard won't make the Astros any better and those not-really-fans who go to the game and never pay attention won't be looking at it, they will still be looking at their cell phones and then calling anyone they know to tell them 'I am at the Astros game, see if you can see me on TV'. Sorry idiots, no one is watching the Astros. I hate what professional "sports" has become.”

Coach Carter, you’re on:

“It's a genuine surprise when visitors to our city are virtually strip-searched when going into Minute Maid Park to make sure they don't smuggle contraband like bottles of water in (other cities allow it). But with the new improvements to be paid for, perhaps they should completely strip patrons - that way they would then have to buy Minute Maid's over-priced Astros clothing merchandise as well as their drinks.”

Greg, you’re on:
“Oh we get to see the Goya Bean version of the shell game in HD. Whoopdee-freakin'-doo. Oh.....and don't forget the lame marriage proposals. I just want to watch baseball.”

Lily, you’re on:
“How about some of those individual screens like the one that planes are putting on the back of the seat in front of you? Video boards add advertising revenue and seating (moving press box) adds ticket revenue. I don't see where most of these 'upgrades' add much for the fans. Typical Drayton. Does this mean they will have a low class trash seating area, also?”

 California Man, you’re on:

“Everything will be nearly identical except for the ticket, parking, and concession prices, which will probably see a double digit % increase. Hmmmm...$12 million just so they can show replays, player stats, and lame entertainment clips?? Yeah I can see how that needs to be in HD. How about doing away with the video board all together. I mean, if you really want to watch the game on TV that would be better accomplished by staying home and watching it on TV.”

Budget Man, you’re on:
“The damned thing isn’t even paid for yet and it has to be gussied up. Why don’t they dig up Tal's Hill and move the freaking flagpole behind the fence! Yippee, now we can watch ‘em drool spit down their chin’s in full HD glory.”

Big Mama, you’re on:
“How about some A/C in the upper levels – I sweat like a pig up there. The bottom of the stadium is nice, but the upper seats are ridiculous! How about bringing back the exploding scoreboard!!!"

Carlos, you’re on:
“This is apparently an attempt to entertain the non aficionados who are kinda like the Rocket fans who come in during the middle of the first quarter and later. They don't understand the game but enjoy being there.”

Travis, you’re on:
“This video board is just Drayton's way of saying ... ‘I want a new stadium in 5 years.’ And now we see all the new ads in HD ... nice. Call the new, big screen the 'DRA-TRON' and show movies on it during the games, or re-runs of 'Glee'. That will up the attendance and the sale of over-priced food and drinks.”

T-Bird, you’re on:
“I feel bad for Carlos Lee, as that HD is gonna add 10 pounds to his big ass”

Festus, you’re on::
"Does this mean they're going to crank up the incredibly loud commercials even higher? You couldn't pay me to have season tickets and listen to that night after night?”

Hulk, you’re on:
“This just means you're looking at spending $200 minimum to take your family to the ballgame instead of $150. Uncle Drayton is a genius!!! Great ... a 12 year old 'outdated' stadium. Time to build a new one."

Howard, you’re on:
“Almost every call so far has been negative. Despite moving the 'Stros in the right direction, apparently Uncle D has not made a lot of friends over the past season.”

That's it. We gotta go to a break and pay some bills.



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