Earlier in the year, I had gone down to Houston for another work visit that coincided with the Red Sox being in town. My uncle took me to the game, the Red Sox won, and I had an amazing time. Unfortunately, Joel missed out on the fun, and I hadn’t done a stadium tour, so we decided to hit up Minute Maid Park before the trek to Dallas. We went to the earliest time slot (they run Monday through Saturday at 10 and 12) and paid $15 per ticket. A lot of cities have invested a lot of money into rebuilding and renovating their downtown areas, and Houston is certainly one of those cities. The old stadium was outside the city, but this one is right downtown. They still have some work to do- you could see a few run down old homes right across the street from the stadium (prime parking space), but it did give the area a facelift, and our tour guide, a Houston native, was really appreciative of that. Unfortunately, that was about all he was appreciative of- he was rather pessimistic and seemed frustrated with his team’s unwillingness to go out and get the pieces he thought they needed for a World Series. We were there the day they announced they’d signed or traded for Brian McCann, but he wasn’t sold on him (I don’t blame him- gross Yankees). What makes his pessimism amusing looking back, however, is that the Astros actually won the World Series the following fall and ultimately made the necessary moves down the stretch to make it happen. All during the World Series I was thinking of our pessimistic tour guide and how I hoped that the run had restored his faith in the Astros ownership.
The tour itself was pretty good- they were doing some construction in the outfield and didn’t turn on the lights- it’s a convertible roof that was closed and while there are lots of windows, it was pretty overcast that day and so we didn’t get much natural light. It was, however, the most we’ve been allowed to walk around the back stop and down the baselines, so that was neat. We got the typical stops- dugout, various seating places, press box, and a few other behind the scenes stops, but my favorite was the atrium when you walk in. They built the stadium where there was once a train station and they kept the same atrium (probably updated) that was there before. It was a cool touch and made the train in left field make a lot more sense. Our tour guide had grown up in the area, so it was interesting to get his perspective on the stadium and he was pretty knowledgeable, although he didn’t know the answer to Joel’s go-to stadium question: “How much did (insert stadium name) pay to have the naming rights?” Overall, it was a good tour, decently priced, and parking was easy. Also, this is the second time we’ve toured a stadium and had the team win the World Series the following fall (and the Patriots won after we toured Fenway), so any ball clubs interested in having us come tour your stadium, contact me soon! 😊
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.