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MMP: It’s Getting Hot in Here

Minute Maid Park, photo courtesy Houston Astros

Minute Maid Park, photo courtesy Houston Astros

MINUTE MAID PARK: IT’S GETTING HOT IN HERE

The month of April marked the HOUSTON ASTROS’ hottest start (15–7) since 1986. But the team isn’t the only thing off to a hot start, so are our blazing hot temperatures. Hello, summer.

Baseball’s meant to be played outside – unless of course it’s the middle of June where temperatures average 91 degrees here in Houston. Nothing is meant to be outside because it’s too hot. Air-conditioned baseball may be different than the way many remember America’s pastime, but the luxury isn’t just for players, it’s for the fans too. The average length of a MLB game in 2014 lasted 3:02.That’s a long time to be sitting in the heat trying to rally behind your team.

Luckily, Houston is just one of a few cities that blesses their baseball fans (and team) with the luxury of a roof and airconditioning. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to open the roof for a game, including heat index, humidity, inclement weather and wind. The roof has weather sensors, and if the wind is blowing at certain strength or direction, the roof can’t be moved. The team says the main objective is providing the most comfortable environment for fans. Throughout the calendar year, the roof is opened approximately 160 times. Like all things in life, you’ll never be able to please everyone. Some fans love having the roof open and practically demand it as a quintessential part of the game, while others only attend when the luxury of air conditioning is present. The roof is always a game-time decision and is a group effort in the front office including input from the Senior VP of Business Operations, VP of Stadium Operations, Senior Director of Major League Field Operations and others.

MINUTE MAID PARK is known for beautifully showcasing downtown Houston in all its glory. Luckily, the roof retracts completely off the park with 50,000sf of glass in the west wall to allow fans a glimpse of the spectacular downtown views, whether open or closed. But the roof isn’t only beneficial just for games. On May 4, the roof made history being used as shade during batting practice (via Mike Acosta who runs @AstrosTalk). The roof is powered by mechanized panels, which open and close in 13 minutes. In an average year, the roof travels 14.6 miles – probably the same as Orbit, everyone’s favorite mascot.

Before you plan your next Astros outing, check #RoofStatus on Twitter to see if the roof will be open or closed. Hint: It’s June, so likely to be closed every game.

“OUR FANS LOVE THE FRESH AIR AND VIEWS AS LONG AS IT’S NOT TOO UNCOMFORTABLE WITH HEAT AND HUMIDITY. HAVING A RETRACTABLE ROOF GIVES US A LOT OF FLEXIBILITY AND IS A GREAT INVESTMENT FOR OUR CITY.” – Jeff Luhnow, General Manager of the Houston AstrosASTROS

HOT EvENTS IN JUNE
JUNE 12 AND 13: “Celebrate Dad” weekend
JUNE 14: Father’s Day annual Picnic in the Park fundraising event
For more info, visit www.Astros.com.

This article originally ran in the print issue of Local Houston Magazine (the June issue). Click here to see the online version.