Clem's Baseball home

Minute Maid Park *
Home of the
Houston Astros
(2000- )

Minute Maid Park

Mouse rollover

2000 2017 lower deck exposed (no roof) roof open roof half open roof closed roof closed, opaque roof open, opaque
Key to diagrams

* known as "Enron Field," 2000-2001, and as "Astros Field," Feb.-June 2002

Vital statistics:
Lifetime Seating
Seating rows
Overhang /
shade %
Est. territory
(1,000 sq. ft.)
Fence height  CF
orien- tation
Back-stop Outfield dimensions
Built Status Lower deck Middle deck Upper deck Lower deck Upper deck Fair Foul LF CF RF Left
Left-center Center field Right-center Right field
2000 FINE 40,976 38 11 26 30% 100% 107.0 21.0 21 9 7 ENE 49 315 (335) 409 373 326

ALL-STAR GAME: 2004 WORLD SERIES: 2005, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022 (2 wins, 3 losses)

EST. COST: $248 million+ BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: I saw the Astros beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 on June 13, 2023.

There is a lot to like about this ballpark, but it has, shall we say, "a troubled past." Its origins lie in the not-quite-consummated 1995 sale of the Astros franchise to Northern Virginia businessman William Collins, the same guy who was trying to acquire the Expos from the mid-1990s until 2006. The owner of the Astros, Drayton McLane Jr., pledged to keep the Astros in Houston if public funds were made available for the construction of a new baseball stadium, and voters dutifully approved a bond issue. At least there was a lower public subsidy ratio (68 percent) than in the other neoclassical stadiums. In April 1999 the Enron Corporation agreed to pay over $100 million for the stadium naming rights over a period of 30 years. The scandal-plagued Enron went bankrupt in December 2001, and the Astros had to pay Enron $2.1 million to nullify the deal. During the first half of 2002, their home field was called "Astros Field." In June, the Minute Maid subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company signed a 28-year agreement with the Astros, and the stadium became known as "Minute Maid Park." To add to the murky intrigue, the stadium is managed by Brown and Root, which is a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company. (!)

The stadium design was heavily influenced by the new downtown location, adjacent to Union Station. In place of the futuristic space-age theme of the Astrodome, there is a nostalgic homage to the railroad era, with an arched stone wall in back of left field. On top that wall sits a replica of an old steam locomotive, which toots and chugs down the track whenever an Astro player hits a home run. Below that arched wall is the visiting team bullpen, which was, apparently, the second such covered bullpen in a major league ballpark, after Busch Stadium II -- the visitors' side, in 1996 and 1997. Claustrophoblic relief pitchers beware! Each of the arches provides room for standing spectators. There is really nothing at all in the stadium design that is connected to the space program, which makes you wonder if they might be considering changing the team name...

Whereas Colt Stadium was "too hot" and the Astrodome was "too dark," Minute Maid Park is "just right," easily adapting to changing weather conditions at the flick of a switch. It was the cheapest of all the retractable dome stadiums, and the total cost was apparently held down by the relatively small total area of the roof, made possible by the cozy outfield dimensions. There are permanent roof sections along three of the four sides, and for the most part, they are not supported by structural beams. There are four beams on the first base side near home plate however, at the point where the tracks along which the retractable roof slides. (See the exposed diagram version, above.) The permanent roof sections on the third base side and beyond right field mesh with the movable roof sections, a very smart design. One distinctive feature of the roof is that its arc is biased, with the apex much closer to the left field wall. This provides for maximum height in the outfield, where long fly balls are usually headed. It takes about 20 minutes to open or close the roof, which consists of two small (120-foot wide) roof sections and one large (240-foot wide) section. When the roof is open, the small sections slide under the big one, extending well beyond the north side of the structure where the scoreboard is. When the roof is closed, the two small sections flank the large central roof section, and the west wall (beyond left field) is enclosed by huge panes of glass. That keeps out the hot, humid, mosquito-infested air, while still giving fans (at least those on the first base side) a view of the Houston skyline.

Minute Maid Park was one of the first stadiums in which large balconies were built into the upper deck, partly to help ushers make sure that seats were occupied by patros who had paid the proper price for tickets in that section, and partly to enhance access for wheelchair-bound patrons. In every other section of the grandstand, the "notch" (seen in the profile view) is filled with normal seats. The big vertical discontinuity explains why the entry portals are not visible in the diagrams above. They do show, however, the stairs (in medium gray) to the upper part of the upper deck.

thumbnail The sharp angle in the seating sections beyond third base and the short distance and tall (21-foot) wall in left field (complete with Citgo sign!) are an obvious imitation of Fenway Park. (Perhaps this is where the idea for putting seats on top of the "Green Monster" in Boston came from!) The overall shape of the field, with roughly perpendicular outfield walls and a deep center field, is quite reminiscent of Tiger Stadium. There are two significant "jogs" in the fence line, however, and some quirky indentations at the base of the arches in left field. In 2001, the yellow line marking the home run clearance in left-center field (above the bullpen) was raised from 10 feet to 25 feet. Foul territory is among the smallest of any big league ballpark, rivaling Wrigley Field. It is only 49 feet from home plate to the backstop. The vast majority of seats are positioned close to the field, one of the best features of this stadium. There is a small "nosebleed section," however, located in the left field corner of the upper deck where ten or so additional rows of seats are squeezed in. Across the street on the left field side is Union Station, from whence many rooftop fans can view the game, a la Wrigleyville. There is a 422 foot marker on the side of that building. In the corner entrance behind home plate there is a brick clock tower. Other entrances feature lots of fancy wrought iron.

From a player's point of view, Minute Maid Park is clearly a slugger's paradise, favoring both left and right-handed pull hitters. Home runs to right field are faciliated by the relatively short (7-foot) wall on that side. For the first 17 years, there was a slope in deep center field, named "Tal's Hill" in honor of Tal Smith, the Astros' President of Baseball Operations. On that slope, which was an obvious homage to Crosley Field, there was a flag pole just to the left of the center field distance marker. Chasing long fly balls to center field was often a big challenge for players from the visiting team. With the inviting short distances to left and right fields, Minute Maid Park has seen quite a number of high-scoring games. Another quirk that sometimes affects play is the balcony that hangs over deep left center field, hence the purple color coding in the diagram. There are also covered in-play recesses between the supporting arches in front of the bullpen on that side.

In the 1990s, the Astros became regular pennant contenders for the first time in franchise history, and they only got better after moving into their new home. They won the wild card spot in 2004 and 2005, and won the National League pennant for the first time ever in 2005. For a short while, Roger Clemens, Andy Petitte, and Roy Oswalt were the core of a truly awesome pitching rotation. The retirement of Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio took a lot of oomph out of the lineup, and the third member of the "Killer Bees," Lance Berkman, was traded to the New York Yankees at the end of July 2010. In 2013, the Astros switched to the American League (West Division) under the terms of franchise sale agreement with new owner Jim Crane. The front office began acquiring top-notch talent, including 2015 Cy Young Winner Dallas Keuchel. The Astros made it to the postseason as a wild card team, beating the Yankees but then falling to the eventual world champion Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. In 2017 they overcame the Los Angeles Dodgers to win their first World Series, thanks to the clutch hitting of Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, and the pitching of Justin Verlander. In 2019 they anticipated a second championship title but fell to the Washington Nationals, winning all three road games but losing all four games at home. The Astros are favored to win the 2021 World Series, but much like two years before, the visiting team (Atlanta Braves) celebrated the championship in Minute Maid Park.

Prior to the 2017 season, the Astros removed "Tal's Hill" in center field, and built new high-revenue seating section in its place. That reduced the distance to center field from 436 feet to 409 feet.

SOURCES: Lowry (2006); Pastier (2007); Rosen (2002); Cohen (2001)

FAN TIP: Daniel Prescott

Minute Maid Park ratings (purely subjective)
The Clem Criteria:
Location * Aesthetics Overall
7 7 7 6 7 6.8

* See the Stadium locations page.

Houston stadiums

Visit Houston!

If you like petroleum refineries, cattle, and hot temperatures, you'll love Houston! Actually, there is a lot of cultural history involving Texan independence from Mexico in 1836, and the Mexican heritage is reflected in the arts, music, and in restaurant cuisine. Republicans will take interest in the statue and memorial of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, located along the Brazos river in a downtown park.


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Christ Church Cathedral, George. H.W. Bush statue, the old Harris County courthouse, Houston downtown skyline.

Minute Maid Park grand view sun

Click on the camera icons (camera icon) below to see the photos, one by one.

camera icon #1 Grand view from behind home plate, upper deck.

camera icon #2 From the upper deck on the 1st base side.

camera icon #3 From center field.

camera icon #4 Closeup of the left field wall.

camera icon #5 Left field & center field.


camera icon #6 Exterior, southwest.

camera icon #7 Exterior, north.

camera icon #8 From the left field corner.

(Photos #1 - #8 were taken June 13, 2023.)

Minute Maid Park photo

camera icon #1 Yours truly next to the right field foul pole, where Howie Kendrick's go-ahead home run struck in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series. (Selfie taken June 13, 2023.)

camera icon #2 The grandstand and arched wall with the antique train in left field, after dusk. (Courtesy of Bob Andrews.)

camera icon #3 The enormous roof (open) and scoreboard looming above right field. (Courtesy of Bob Andrews; both photos were taken during the 2005 World Series, and are also posted, along with others, at

camera icon #4 View of the grandstand from the right field corner. (Courtesy of Dave Givens, May 2015.)

camera icon #5 "Tal's Hill" in center field, which was removed prior to the 2017 season. (Courtesy of Dave Givens, May 2015.)

Minute Maid Park:
Chronology of diagram updates


NOTE: The diagram thumbnails have been continually replaced since 2008, so the images seen in the older blog posts do not reflect how the full-size diagrams looked at that time. Roll your mouse over the adjacent thumbnail to see a pre-2008 version.

Minute Maid Park
11 Nov 2003 19 May 2004 25 Oct 2005 04 Jun 2010 29 Nov 2015

Vox populi: Fans' impressions

Have you been to this stadium? If so, feel free to share your impressions of it with other fans! (Registration is required.) Also, I welcome submissions of original stadium photos that fans have taken, and will make sure they get properly credited. Just send me an e-mail message via the Contact page.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Copyright © Andrew G. Clem. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your agreement to the Terms of Use.