While the taste of defeat is still fresh in the mouth of Houston Astros fans, Astros president Reid Ryan made a shocking announcement. According to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle, the team has “suspended their planned $15 million renovation of center field and the seating areas and concourses behind center field, which was scheduled to be in place for next season.” In plain English, the Hill is staying for 2016.
While the conspiracy theorist in me thinks that it is suspicious that the announcement comes immediately following the Astros being eliminated from the playoffs. It was like the Astros were holding the announcement until the fans were totally disappointed, and this would be a bit of good news to cheer up the fans. However, the reasonable side of me thinks that they didn’t want to announce during the playoff run and distract the team or fans. What happened, the Astros seemed pretty animated that this was going to happen?
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
Before we go any further, I feel like a broken record sometimes. No matter when Tal’s Hill is removed, our website’s name will still be Climbing Tal’s Hill. We have no desire to switch names, and we will be a memorial for the hill once it is removed. Many of the Fansided sites are named from things or people who are no longer around. Should something else come up down the road, we might consider changing, but we have no immediate desire to change the site’s name.
Let’s take a look at a few possible explanation for the delay.
Reason 1: The Playoffs
To say the Astros were not really expecting to reach the playoffs this season is an understatement, despite all the boastful talk during the past offseason about having a playoff team. Either Jeff Luhnow and company are geniuses or could see into the future, but they had a right to be proud of their team. When the Astros made the decision to take the hill away, they probably thought it was still too early to think about playoffs. If I remember, the original announcement said that construction would begin immediately after the season.
However, due to the Astros making the playoffs, they lost two weeks of construction time. Two weeks may not seem like a lot, but in major construction that is a big difference. Have you seen how long the freeway expansion in the Clear Lake area has taken?
According to Barron, should the Astros make the postseason in 2016, the Astros will split the job into two parts over the 2016 and 2017 offseasons or do as much as they can during the season without disrupting play. The problem is that every game is televised, and they don’t want to show the caution for construction signs in centerfield on the broadcast.
Reason 2: Timetables
As Barron stated in his article, the Astros were concerned that if they were to proceed with the remodeling, it might be more complicated than originally thought. The Astros did not want the stadium not to be ready for opening day 2016. They have the idea of what needs to be done, but they didn’t want it to be a rushed job. They wanted to do it when they were sure they could get it done right and have the right quotes and estimates. They have not cancelled the removal of the hill; it is just a matter of when.
Reason 3: Prior Commitments
Thanks to Taylor Swift for moving her concert to allow for playoff games at Minute Maid Park. But the Astros have scheduled a cricket match in November, which will delay construction even more. The bottom line is that the Astros did not want to be in the situation that the Cubs were in to start the 2015 season as they were still renovating Wrigley Field as the season approached.
I was actually looking forward to the change in centerfield; I thought the design was pretty impressive. They were doing the change to get more bodies in the outfield as MMP has some of fewest seats in the outfield in MLB. But I do like the hill, so either way I will be okay. However, for the ones who are very passionate about Tal’s Hill, you have one more season to bask in its glory.