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Meet Houston's Minute Maid Park10/03/2004 7:00 PM ET
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
When the Astros opened the doors of what is now called Minute Maid Park for the first time in 2000, fans saw something they hadn't witnessed since 1964 -- outdoor baseball in Houston. While clear skies and natural grass were a welcome change after 35 years in the Astrodome, a retractable roof offered protection from two inevitable elements linked to Houston -- rain, and the often unbearably hot weather. Hopefully, the roof will not factor into the equation during the postseason. October is traditionally one of the best months in Houston in terms of weather, so, barring some rain, expect the lid to stay open from start to finish.
Minute Maid Park itself offers several unique elements, inclusing a replica of a 19th century locomotive weighing close to 50,000 pounds, that runs along the low roof track that spans left-center field. When the Astros hit a home run, the train chugs and snorts its way 800 feet down the tracks.On the playing field, a 10-degree incline sits toward the back of center field, representing the deepest part of the ballpark. Named "Tal's Hill" after Tal Smith, the club President who came up with the idea, the slope includes a flag pole that is in the field of play, creating unique action for any ball that gets past a center fielder. The overall seating capacity of Minute Maid Park is 40,950, with the most popular seating area being the Crawford Boxes located in left field. As soon as the turnstiles open, fans pour into that area, knowing it's the best place to catch a batting practice homer. The dimensions of Minute Maid Park are also notable. The distance down the left field line is short, just 315 feet. But the furthest point of the park in center is one of the deepest in baseball at 436 feet. The left field power alley spans 362 feet, while right field extends 373 feet. The distance down the right field line is 326 feet.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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