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Minute Maid Renovations Include Removal Of Tal’s Hill

The Houston Astros have broken ground for the renovation of center field at Minute Maid Park. That includes the removal or an iconic feature of this particular park.

Astros Sr. VP Marcel Braithwaite, Astros president Reid Ryan, Astros owner Jim Crane, winners of Minute Maid Memories contest Philip Cole and son Braden, and team mascot Orbit.
Breaking ground on Tal’s Hill, with Astros Sr. VP Marcel Braithwaite, Astros president Reid Ryan, Astros owner Jim Crane, and winners of Minute Maid Memories contest Philip Cole and son Braden, joining team mascot Orbit.

The renovations now underway include improved seating, although the stadium capacity remains about the same. There’ll be new food and beverage options. And there’ll be revisions to the playing field, including the removal of Tal’s Hill — the 90-foot wide center field incline named for former team president Tal Smith. It has a deep-center wall that’s 436 feet from home plate. But with the redesign of center field, the fence will be 409 feet away.

Astros owner Jim Crane says the new design was influenced by feedback from fans, as well as former and current players. “Yeah, the players, you know, they all have their opinion. I mean, you know, when we looked at it statistically, and certainly, you know, we have the guys to do that, it’s pretty neutral. So, it’s not a big deal, we just think it helps us utilize the park. You know, taking in all that into consideration, we’re just really trying to improve the ball park and the ball park experience. Impacting the game, we don’t think there’ll be that much.”  

Astros President Reid Ryan says the things fans will appreciate most can’t be seen in photos of the center field work. “The bigger concourses, the fact that we’re going to add more gates. By the time we get to opening day, people are going to be really excited.”  

Renovations are expected to be complete for the 2017 season. Reid says it’s a shame work was able to start early, because the Astros weren’t in the playoffs. “I think when we thought about when are we gonna do this press conference, all of us were hoping for November. And unfortunately, you know, we had injuries and our bullpen got taxed and I think people know we’re building this with a lot of October baseball in mind.”  

The Astros hit ten balls to Tal’s Hill this season for extra bases, all of which would be home runs in the renovated center field area.

Tal's Hill at center field in Minute Maid Park.
Tal’s Hill at center field in Minute Maid Park.
Plan showing improvements  to center field at Minute Maid Park.
Plan showing improvements to center field at Minute Maid Park.

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