Monday, June 22, 2015

Minute Maid Park Behind the Scenes

Root, Root, Root for the Astros 
June 9, 2015 

My hubby taking me on a tour of the 1st park he took me too!
The tradition continues!

To start off the summer and Luke's birthday week we decided to get in our first baseball game of the season as a family. Unfortunately, the Astros were not in town the entire week so we opted to go on a behind the scenes tour of Minute Maid Park. This was INCREDIBLE and had a true meaning to me personally because I visited this stadium and watched a ballgame in this stadium for the first time WITH Chris in 2010. Growing up my family and I traveled throughout the United State, literally, visiting Major League Baseball Stadiums. This is literally how we planned our summer vacations, around baseball parks and games. It was the most glorious summers and vacations ever. When I married Chris I told him I wanted to continue this tradition as best we can and in 2010 he took me to Minute Maid Park while visiting his parents in Houston while living in Oklahoma. That was a memorable day and game and this was the icing on that cake. Thank you Chris to showing love to me by doing what I love... Major League Baseball. And now I have exactly what I wanted... A little boy who shares the same passion for baseball that I did and do!

We got our tickets and we are ready to go! 

The Astros franchise began as a minor league team for the St. Louis Cardinals and then became the Colt 45s. Shortly there after in 1965 became the Astros. Minute Maid Park was completed in 2000 after 3 years of construction. It was originally Enron Field but obviously that didn't work out so Minute Maid bought the naming rights for $300 MILLION! That is a LOT of orange juice my friends! Every off season the company does a complete over-haul and upgrade and in 2014-2015 they renovated the Club Level for $248.1 MILLION! 

We started the tour in the Team Store where Luke and Natalie both showed us exactly what they wanted to get for their next birthday and Christmas. Then we headed into the historic part of the stadium, Union Station. This is the original train station that was purchased by the developers back in 1997 and was one of the only ways to get in and out of the city back in the 1800s.

They were so anxious to get into the stadium but waiting patiently (I was surprised) while our guide gave us some history of the park! 
Then we went up to the very far upper deck (The cheap seats... ie, our home for most games) and looked at the retractable roof. If the temperature is greater than 80*, less than *65 or rain is in the forecast the roof is closed and the game is played inside the dome. Anyone who knows me knows that I believe that "BASEBALL WAS NOT MEANT TO BE PLAYED INSIDE". In fact, I stood behind this belief up until the point I moved to Houston and lived in its 90-100* summer days and then began to like the air conditioning... Who would have thought? The roof closes at least 3 hours prior to the opening pitch in order to completely cool the entire stadium.. which again, the Houstonians appreciate. The tour guide also pointed out the train positioned over center field and said it is in fact a working train and it about 30% larger than that of the 1800s. In fact, just one of it's front wheels in over 6 feet tall. I always thought it looked kind of small but I guess not.

At least 70% of the time this is our view from our seats!
May not be the best in the stadium but they work for us! 

Then we ventured down a few levels to the Club Level, which was just renovated this off-season and renamed the Mazda Club Level and is sponsored by Mazda car company. The tour guide gave his opinion about this area and mentioned it being the best area to get the overall best value and experience of a game without breaking the bank. This level has numerous restaurants that are only offered on this level as well as other perks only offered on this level. These tickets range anywhere from $59-109 depending on the game and opposing team. While I would LOVE to be a part of this level, the true Klingsick (and logical person) in me says that is WAY too much to pay to watch the Astros... no offense!

Natalie and Luke sitting in the Mazda Club level seats... Enjoy them y'all, we may never be back! 

Shortly after this level we went down another level to the Suite area where we saw a suite which was owned by the Astros. This suite had 18 seats and each seat was $175 rather someone sat in that seat or not. The Astros corporation also offered to bring in additional bar stool seating for this suite at a cost of $85 per suite. Maybe one of these days when I win the lottery I will take Chris and 16 of my closest friends to this suite!
The complete view of this particular suite on the Mazda Club Level! 

Before making our way to the field we stopped at the Diamond Level via a private elevator. In this level customers have to purchase a 1 time $20,000 licensing fee for their seats and then $375 per seat, sold in sets of 2, 4 or 6, for ALL 81 games! That totals to $60,750 for EVERY season PLUS a $20,000 fee for the first year. $80K? Wow, I like baseball but wow! I think my 1st house cost less than that! The $20K fee is a ONE TIME ONLY fee but still. There are only 200 seats in the Diamond Level and ALL of them are sold out indefinitely and have been since Minute Maid opened in 2000!

A view of the elite Diamond Level Suite area. 

Natalie really wanted to sit at the tables!
Again, you better it enjoy it now because this LITERALLY is NEVER happening! 

Now the moment we had all been waiting for, especially Luke... taking on the field. We made our way down to the seats behind home plate first and just sat down for a minute to take it all in. These seats were part of the Diamond Club so were $375 each. I liked being so close but the netting would get on my nerves... especially at $375 a pop!

Both of my kiddos in the On Deck Circle! 

I LOVE this! 

A perfect picture and memory of a GREAT day!

Me and my BASEBALL boy in the dugout!
Finally we got on the field and ran around before going into the dugout. We were allowed to be on the warning track but not tough the grass at all. This was the Astros most prize possession according to our tour guide. The Astros have 8 FULL-TIME groundskeepers who maintain the grass. It takes them 4 hours to mow and level the outfield and 1 hour for the infield. They use real grass from Argentina called Sea Shore grass. Every 5 years the Astros redo the who field and just this past season was the most recent year for new grass. This grass was installed and put down just 2 weeks before Opening Day!

Of course, they had to run on the field! 

Poor Luke fell while running and really scared up his knees! 

The grass they so highly protected! 
I have to admit it was really pretty! 

We made our way around the back of the track to center field where we go to see the Home bullpen as well as the infamous Tal's Hill in center field. Minute Maid is the only stadium in the Major Leagues that has a pole in regular play however, after 15 years the "beards" (or CEOs) have decided for the safety of the players to remove it and replace it with more seating! This pole has only come into play 1 time in 2003 when Richie Sexton hit it and it came back into play. The play was scored as a 500 foot triple off the hill and was one for the record books.

Pitchers Natalie and Luke in the Lexus bullpen! 

My sweet family at our favorite place! 

The "Hill"... Such a bummer they are taking it out! 

The final stop on the field tour was the manual score board. Only 3 stadiums in the Major Leagues have a manual score board; Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Minute Maid Park. I think it says something about this corporation and franchise to be put into the same category as these other 2, which in my "humble but accurate" opinion are are easily #1 and #2 of remaining Major League Baseball Stadiums.

Luke wanted to change the score so bad!
"Look mommy a number". 

We completed our tour in the Press Box where we were able to see where the newspaper and Internet writers, radio hosts and the official scorers of the game sit. We also got to see a set of yearly statistics for each of the 30 MLB teams! 

This was an awesome experience and all 4 of us enjoyed it! Poor Luke had a hard time leaving because he said "I want to watch a game. Where are the players?" We finally got him out but not without a fight! Poor little guy... he just LOVES baseball! 

We will back back to Minute Maid Park in just 2 weeks to watch the Yankees play dominate the Astros for our annual Yankees sweep (The Yankees may not win but we are at EVERY GAME... Klingsick/ Davis tradition). 

As only the 2nd FULL DAY of summer 2015, I'd say we are off to a GREAT start! I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds! 

Thank you Chris for sharing one of my passions and pleasures with me and now with our children! I love you! 

God is good... All the time! 

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