Astros plan to remove Tal’s HIll for 2016

The Astros have received preliminary approval from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority their plans for a $15-million renovation to Minute Maid Park that would include the removal Tal’s Hill in center field and moving the flag poles so they’re no longer in play.

Astros owner Jim Crane thanked the Sports Authority for their support at a meeting Thursday morning and said the renovation project would begin as soon as the season ends and would be finished in time for the 2016 season. The renovations would include more fan-friendly areas in center field.

The Astros hope to eventually open a Hall of Fame beyond center field or in Union Station, but that’s not part of the $15 million plan that’s been approved. The Astros will pay for the project.

“We’ve been working for some time to look at how we can improve the ballpark and we’ve gone through a number of renovations, including the diamond club, the club level, the locker rooms, the offices,” Crane told MLB.com “This is one of our big projects we knew we wanted to do. We did a lot of studies on other ballparks on the entertainment areas in center field and ours is very outdated over the life of the stadium, which has been great.

“We’ve submitted a plan to renovate center field and make it more fan-friendly and get more participation from the fans and really draw some more people in there.”

Crane said the center field fence, which currently sits 436 feet from home plate, would be brought in to about 409 feet. The extra space beyond the wall would be used for additional concessions and fan-friendly areas where spectators can watch the game.

Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan and senior vice president of business operations Marcel Braithwaite toured more than 20 ballparks last year to get ideas for reimagining the center field area.

“As you know, Tal’s Hill, some people love it, some people hate it,” Crane said. “We just thought it would be a better ballpark by moving that in. It will still be a very deep center field. There’s always been concern with the flag poles in play and danger in that and also the injuries going up the Hill, so we think this would be better for the players, utilize the space better and be a very pretty ballpark.”

Minute Maid Park, which opened in 2000, is owned by the taxpayers of Harris County and the city of Houston, so any changes must be approved by the Sports Authority, which serves as the landlord.

“Any time our tenants want to spend a significant amount money to upgrade our facilities, I think it’s in the taxpayers’ best interest to do that,” said Kenny Friedman, chairman of the Sports Authority. “We’ve been working with them all along on what their ideas are. They have great ideas, and I think the public will be excited by what they’re planning on doing there.”

Brathwaite, who said the Astros will begin putting the center field project out to bid soon to make sure they’re staying with in the budget, said the eventual Hall of Fame concept will aim to preserve the legacy of the franchise.

“We want to make sure we’ve have a great home to celebrate the tremendous history we have here,” he said.

13 Comments

This is a travesty! I like the fact that Minute Maid Park is unique from all of the other ballparks in the league. The hill and the flagpole in play are the signature looks of Minute Maid along with the train. I don’t like this new renovation at all.

A more meaningful improvement would be to remove the advertising from the “fowl” poles! Or perhaps remove the train that goes nowhere.

I really don’t care about the hill, but if the hill goes, the flag poles have to be moved behind the wall! Imagine center fielders running into those things at a full run!

It’s too bad they want to add more home runs by moving the wall in. That 436 foot center field is similar to the old Tigers Stadium. It nicely balanced the shortest left field in baseball.

I guess the reclaimed space can be filled with hot tubs or a swimming pool.

Why is the attendance not better with the Astros recent success? I don’t understand. Seams like we had better attendance in our losing seasons. Were the ticket prices raised?? Astros fan since their inception. Keep up good work. Love them Astros.

I think it’s going to take a while to win back all the fans.

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Horrible decision Tal’s Hilll made Minute Maid the best ballpark in the MLB now they will just be another generic ballpark.

Brian,   this is very interesting that they are bringing this up again, about redoing the ball field, and removing Tal’s hill, not to many balls go out there, but it does cause some conflict when they do hit a ball that far in center field, I understand the flag pole problem, which there are several places they could put the flags and they would sill be in the center of the playing field, I don’t think many people would want to be sited that far away from the players, but leveling the mound would help the players that have to chase the ball on the uphill run !!!   That’s just my view !!!       Ralph   

       

Smart move.That hill was a disaster waiting to happen.They should move that left field wal l back to regular dimensions.And,raise the fence a little in right.Nice park.

The Rockies seemed lost when it comes to ideas about the park they play in.I’m a Giants fan.I watch a lot of games at Coors.It’s ridiculous.Here’s the problem.The ball jumps like crazy.Fine.Move the fences in left field in.And raise the wall.Maybe the height of CLE.It allows the OF to play defense.There’s too much ground to cover.You can’t make a play.Diving or otherwise.You have to play deep because of the carry.A lot of balls will be hit off that wall.At the same time.When ball are hit down the LF line.The guy at 1B won’t always score.The balls the OF couldn’t catch.Because they play too deep.Will be caught or at least have a chance.You have a chance to throw runners out.By the time the OF gets to the ball.He has no chance.All that adds up.I can’t believe the organization hasn’t done this.They should ask pitchers about that idea.That would save a lot of runs.the dimensions now just give you runs.The park needs to play fair dome how.Moving the fences in LF in and raising them.Will level the playing field.Still going to be a lot of HR.That’s COL.The ridiculous offensive advantage goes away.

What we still have a team in Houston!

Yeah, they’re in first place.

The best move the Astros need to make is back to the NL Central where they belong. Move Phoenix to the AL West where they should be!!

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