The Houston Astros announced on Thursday conceptual plans for the proposed renovation of the center field area of Minute Maid Park, following the 2015 season.
Construction on the new center field area would begin immediately after the 2015 season and would be ready for fans to enjoy by the start of the 2016 season.
The $15 million renovation would include improved seating options, new food and beverage options, the addition of escalators to improve fan access and revisions to the playing field, including the removal of Tal's Hill.
Since Jim Crane's group purchased the ballclub, the Astros have renovated the Diamond Club, main concourse and Mazda Club Level, installed a state-of-the art sound system, refurbished the player's clubhouse and workout facility and installed new grass on the playing field.
Team officials said the design of the new center field area was in partnership with MSA Sport and influenced by feedback from fans, current and former players and front office personnel.
Astros executives said they also visited over 20 MLB parks in the Center Field Project planning process.
"We are extremely excited about our plans for center field, and are confident that our fans will be as well," said Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan. "Our goal will be to create a unique and entertaining atmosphere for our fans that will include great happy hour spots and spectacular views. It will also be visual, giving the ballpark an exciting, new look."
The seating capacity of Minute Maid Park would remain essentially the same, with improved visibility for fans to enjoy the game from center field.
"The renovation of center field represents a significant improvement of the fan experience while maintaining the integrity of the game," said Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow. "The new center field will not only be great for fans, but will make Minute Maid Park an attractive ballpark for current and future players as well."
The current center field distance of 436 feet would move to 409 feet, moving Minute Maid Park from the deepest center distance to the sixth-farthest in the league.
"A lot of thought went into the planning and design of the new center field," said Astros legend and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. "I am confident that the Astros had the best interests of the fans and the players in mind at each step of the way."
The renovation of center field would result in a total of three new bar locations, four additional food locations and a premium group seating area at field level, creating the first and only field-level seating area available at Minute Maid Park.
Article by KHOU Staff via KHOU.com
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