What do Busch Stadium, Dodger Stadium, PNC Park, Petco Park and Safeco Field have in common? Beautiful stadium backdrops. Whether it be the St. Louis Arch, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Roberto Clemente Bridge or just a nice city skyline, the picturesque scenery is a good reason for a non-fan to catch a game. The Astros had that going for them up until the owner, Jim Crane, decided to throw up a hideous monstrosity above the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Last season Jim Crane and the Houston Astros partnered with several Houston area corporations to develop the Community Leaders Program, which plans to build or refurbish youth baseball and softball fields in the disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout the Houston area. This program has been well received by many in and outside the area, including the city’s mayor and the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Bud Selig. Selig went on record in an Astros Press Release from June 27th of last year saying, “I applaud Jim Crane and the Astros for partnering with so many fine local organizations and impacting the future of youth baseball in Houston.” While this is a great program for many of the inner-city youths, Crane’s idea of how to thank the corporations involved is mind-boggling.
Midway through the 2012 season, the dozens of people that either attended or watched the broadcasts of the games noticed a big structure being built that covered a large portion of the train tracks and the championship pennants in left field. It wasn’t until the structure was complete that we realized just how horrible it would be. This large, hideous, paneled billboard with advertising had obstructed the beautiful skyline that we were used to seeing, not to mention the Friday night firework shows.
When the stadium first opened its gates as Enron Field, one of the most consistent statements you would see in reviews would be about the view of the city; for example:
“The large glass wall that extends from left field into centerfield, allows natural light to pour in and make it feel more like an outdoor park than it otherwise would. The park is tucked nicely into a downtown setting.” -BallparkReviews.com
“Fans at Enron have a wonderful view of downtown Houston…and this is true whether the roof (and its side panels) is open or closed.” -Ballparks.com
I would love to see these sites update their reviews of Minute Maid Park now that Jim Crane has stapled and zip-tied his tin signs in front of the once magnificent view of the cityscape.
At the end of the 2012 season, the Astros’ ownership group started sending out the fan questionnaire emails again asking for opinions on the train, Tal’s Hill and the new signage. Of the three, the first one to go definitely needs to be the eyesore known as the Community Leaders signage. I completely understand that it is for a good cause (even though a large portion of the money being raised is going directly into the ownership’s pockets), but the advertising could be placed nearly anywhere else in the park without a word from me. Plaster your Halliburton and Champion Energy Services signs all over the outfield walls like a minor league park. Cover up the ridiculous amount of retired numbers with Schlumberger and Nabors Industries logos. Heck, you can change the name from Minute Maid to Blue Cross and Blue Shield Park for all I care. Just make it go away!