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Minute Maid Park

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Guest Plastic

SO I finally went to Minute Maid Park.. Not so impessive. Seats are small in the lower secton.

Got to sit in the suite. A good amount of boards and displays are around the park.

The canon that goes off evertime we make a homerun is cool. Love the bull/cowboy think which is reminicent of the light up display at The Astrodome. Train was kinda funny.

Good size but not large. Wonder why they won't hold concerts in it. The roof was closed

The food was expensive as at all plarks.

There's always a hella lota functions going on the screens of stadiums and arenas. They should instant replays, player bio,s and even showed lots of people kissing in the audience.

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We don't need to hold concerts there when we already have Toyota Center, The Woodlands and The Verizon (is it still called that?)... they also have concerts in Jones Hall as well as the hall at UH, I don't know what it's called, as well as the Reliant Center Complex, there's a concert hall out there too...

Besides, we don't want to mess up the grass in the outfield for a concert. Not to mention the acoustics would probably suck at MMP.

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Cullen is where most people perform at UH

i have only been inside minute maid once (although have seen it several times from atop of ben milam) - the beer was expensive, but where is it not (except valhalla or certain nights at catbirds...heh)...

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Overall I like Minute Maid, although the train is a little gimmicky. It's not unique to MMP, but (putting on my grumpy old man hat) all the other things going on during games are a bit much. This includes the cartoon races, and shots of spectators kissing, and sixty second quizzes of players ("Hunting or golf?"). There seems to be a feeling that somehow people will get upset if they have to spend the time between innings and during TV commercials without nonstop noise and entertainment.

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Guest Plastic
They have had concerts before.

George Straight and then some other country bumpkin fest.

That was jsut opening night. THey don' t do concerts usually.

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i love MMP. i've been to 9 major league parks around the nation, and its one of my favorites. great atmosphere, you feel like you're in the game no matter where you're sitting. unlike some of those giant stadiums out there.

they have random small concerts on a stage after games. i believe collective soul was there earlier this season. but there's no need for actual concerts there, its a ballpark, that what it was built for, and it serves its purpose.

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This from an article about the DC stadium negotiations from Thursday's WSJ:

"Five years from now people will point with pride to the stadium and mention the District in the same breath as San Francisco, San Diego, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cleveland. These are some of the cities where a sports facility anchored private-sector development and where the ballpark or arena wa appropriately integrated into an urban landscape to create a sense of community and excitement. Each of these cities can point with pride to new housing, new retail, and new commercial development in areas that previously languished or went begging for development deals."

So the question is obvious. What wrong wrong with Minute Maid Park in helping develop that neighborhood? It seems that about the only major development there since the ballpark opened was the Inn at the Ballpark (former World Trade Center redevelopment), and that was spurred by separate tax subsidy. Could the city have done anything different to help revitalize the ballpark area?

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no, the city couldn't have done anything different. people who drive an hour to see a ball game have to drive an hour home. on week nights especially, no one wants to linger in town when they have work and school the next day. IMHO the ballpark is a success because i want to go back every time i'm there. if it happens to be on a weekend i will plan my trip around dinner before or after the game; however, half the fun of being in the ballpark is the junk food you eat while you are there. the ballpark is a great amenity to visitors and people living in town in a different way than it is for people who commute to a game. it may have been sold as an economic boost to surrounding areas but it is what it is.

i love it regardless, BTW.

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Maybe, the city could have gotten more in the way of iron-clad guarantees of development in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark. But I think patience is in order. Given the Enron collapse and general economic downturn that occurred just after the ballpark opened, we are perhaps behind where we otherwise would have been. (And add Lofts at the Ballpark to your list, plus the few shops and bar/restaurants right across Texas Ave from the ballpark)

And some of the examples of wildly successful ballparks also took a long time to develop around their ballparks. Cleveland, for example. I have no idea what it's like now, but I visited the area around their ballpark probably at least 10 years ago, when the park was still pretty new, and there was VERY LITTLE around it (except, IIRC, they were blessed with empty buildings, rather than empty surface lots.)

And I'm not sure what they are talking about in St. Louis. Are they referring to the new Busch Stadium that is currently under construction? The plans call for a Ballpark Village to be built after the stadium is done, but it seems a bit premature to call it a success. If they are talking about the Edward Jones Dome, I am not sure what development arose in its immediate neighborhood. If any, it is, I think quite recent.

Another example is Denver. The first time I visited the area around Coors Field, when the stadium was newer, there was very little in the area. That took quite a few years to really take off too. Again, I think some patience is in order for the MinuteMaid Park neighborhood.

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So the question is obvious. What wrong wrong with Minute Maid Park in helping develop that neighborhood? It seems that about the only major development there since the ballpark opened was the Inn at the Ballpark (former World Trade Center redevelopment), and that was spurred by separate tax subsidy. Could the city have done anything different to help revitalize the ballpark area?

That whole area of downtown needed help before Minute Maid was built. Union Station needed a revitalization. There was no Toyota Center. There was no public talk for a downtown park by George R. Brown. There was no Hiltons Americas. There was no talk for Houston Pavilions. And there were no sports played downtown. It was a totally different area before 2000.

(now the north side of downtown/Buffalo Bayou needs to be Houston's new downtown redevelopment focus)

If anything, I think the reason why Minute Maid Park was built at Union Station wasn't necesarily to spur development around the stadium, but to spur development around George R. Brown. I don't even think the public was told that. It just looks like the convention center was the focal point of a redeveloped area just to give people a reason to believe that there's a reason why the building will still be useful in the 21st century. Check out how Hilton Americas and the arena were built on the south side of the convention and not on the same side as the ballpark. Just my opinion there.

"Could the city have done anything different to help revitalize the ballpark area" is an interesting question, but I believe the city can still do more to this day. There were a number of things that went wrong in the first place. For example, if I recall correctly, one thing expected around the park were new sports bars built around the park and having a pedestrian area. When the ballpark was about to open, they had to literally fight for their alcohol licence because there was a church within a couple hundred feet of it, and they were against the moral thought of alcohol laws being exceptionalized for a stadium. (can't remember the name of the church). Once that came out, many entrepeneuers became skeptical of trying to open alcohol-related businesses near Minute Maid.

Don't know if that's a problem now, but I think if it, there needs to be a plan B, like another downtown mall, luxury hotel district, or major residential high-rise development. It's not too late for Minute Maid to have mad business developments around it.

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Guest danax

I'm sure it's partially coincidental, but 2000 was the year townhomes started going up in the Warehouse District and there's probably been about 100 (estimated but East End Mgt District counted over 60 of them several years ago) such projects built over there since then. Plus, a ballpark by itself is far from a neighborhood magnet and is more a symbol of optimism and hope in rundown areas that could prime the pump of development.

It's still a semi-ghostown over there when the Astros aren't playing so retail is still very shaky.

I think we're still in a very transitional stage in and around DT, with rapid-fire townhousing going up in clusters everywhere within 2-3 miles. Once the clusters start to bump into one another, the logical next step is retail to fill in the gaps. Then one day.........we'll be wondering what happened to all the empty space.

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When the ballpark was about to open, they had to literally fight for their alcohol licence because there was a church within a couple hundred feet of it, and they were against the moral thought of alcohol laws being exceptionalized for a stadium. (can't remember the name of the church). Once that came out, many entrepeneuers became skeptical of trying to open alcohol-related businesses near Minute Maid.

This is not entirely correct. True, the ballpark was less than the minimum 300 foot distance from Annunciation Catholic Church, but the pastor waived the restriction for the Astros, saying he wanted to be a good neighbor, and welcomed the ballpark. The Inn at the Ballpark was also too close, prompting the "Tilman Fertitta Rule", which allows an exemption from the 300 foot rule if you have a high dollar hotel with a bar that does not open to the street. Basically, the Inn is the only one that qualified under this exception.

The only protest for a liquor license was for the proposed Little Woodrows. This bar was close to the girls school on the back of the church property, but the unstated reason for the protest was that the city wanted to extend Avenidas de Las Americas all the way to MMP, and Little Woodrows was going to block the expansion. The County Attorney joined the church in the protest and Little Woodrows lost. They eventually opened in Midtown, the city bought the land and the Avenue was extended to the ballpark.

All other land in the MMP area is available for licenses.

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In regards to the alcohol thing, as I recall there was a problem with the ballpark being to close and they had to change the "official" or physical address of the ballpark so that it met the criteria (300ft. or whatever it is). I assume the same thing happened with the hotel.

Regarding development around the ballpark as well as the light rail line, the problem has been land speculation. The success of the Jacobs Fields of the world hurt our park. Speculators and not developers, bought up the land around MMP thus making development that could make a neat neighborhood cost prohibitive. From what I understand (tours and seminars I've been to) the same has happened along the LR line in Midtown. Hopefully the market will correct, but that could be 10+ years down the line. What also hurts is if these tracts are owned by individual investors they are more apt to stick it out and hope for the payday they once envisioned, even if those expectations are unfounded.

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But if that is the case, wouldn't it be counter-productive for them to just sit on the land? They are only going to make money by selling to somebody who wants to develop something.

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I blame 59.

59 inbound dead-ends at the stadium (Jackson). 59 outbound and the HOV buzz on the other side.

Who wants to live on an expressway?

They should have build this over near Herrin Lofts.

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But if that is the case, wouldn't it be counter-productive for them to just sit on the land? They are only going to make money by selling to somebody who wants to develop something.

That's my point. If an institutional investor owned the property they would be more inclined to sell. The individual investor who hopes to fund his retirement off the property and has no immediate timetable is willing to hold on for the elusive pay day... It flies in the face of logic, but happens everyday, everywhere.

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That's my point. If an institutional investor owned the property they would be more inclined to sell. The individual investor who hopes to fund his retirement off the property and has no immediate timetable is willing to hold on for the elusive pay day... It flies in the face of logic, but happens everyday, everywhere.

I feel like GRB Convention Center is seen as the current focal point for development around it and not MMP or Toyota Center. Almost as if we see MMP as a borderline to the GRB area and not as the center of potential.

Why couldn't there be a bigger push for sports bars and restaurants to open across from MMP on Congress instead of Crawford? Wouldn't that help MMP investors more?

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I think what MMP needs is a neighborhood around it. The bars and restaurants will come once the people live there. Ideally 20 years from now the area is a vibrant neighborhood and MMP is an afterthought that becomes an amenity for four months a year. Nothing flashy, just mid-rises with active street levels is what it would take.

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They should have build this over near Herrin Lofts.

Whether that's true or not, it's a little late in the day. The issue now is how the MMP neighborhood can be better developed. The presence of 59 can be a problem, but the noise disperses quickly and I don't think it would be a big deal west of Crawford. The best thing would be for the city to change the economics that make landowners want to sit on land. That would mean either taxing surface lots or zoning them for another use. The latter is the approach that every other large city in the country uses to address these kind of issues. I agree with SMUrban that it needs low- and mid-rise residential around there.

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The idea that the city should do something is a good one. Here in Dallas, they passed an ordinance that requires parking lot operators to put in and maintain landscaping separating the public right of way from the parking. While this won't send owners scrambling to sell at any cost, it would be a dis-incentive to develop parking lots and hold them long term if this was implemented along side a tax. Developers say it's cost prohibitive to build high rises? Make it prohibitive to maintain and develop surface lots.

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Guest danax
The idea that the city should do something is a good one. Here in Dallas, they passed an ordinance that requires parking lot operators to put in and maintain landscaping separating the public right of way from the parking. While this won't send owners scrambling to sell at any cost, it would be a dis-incentive to develop parking lots and hold them long term if this was implemented along side a tax. Developers say it's cost prohibitive to build high rises? Make it prohibitive to maintain and develop surface lots.

That type of passive/aggressive approach to influencing development doesn't seem to be the style here in Houston, although there is a recent law that requires any new development to have a certain number of street trees. I'm assuming that includes surface parking lots. If Houston has created any kind of legacy, it might be the laissiez-faire/market driven approach to development that has endured for a long time. Problem is there's no way to know if owners of these parcels are sitting on them or not, but that's part of the free market too. It's we observers who demand better, not necessarily the people who actually own the land. And that brings up a negative with ballparks; they create a demand for cheap, short term parking. Not a bad placeholder until it's time to cash in, or until enough development occurs nearby to drive the taxes so high that selling $10 parking spaces for 6 months out of the year becomes a loser.

I think it's just the same old Houston story here; give it time.

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The thing is, I don't think it's a matter of time. I think that in some areas, development just won't happen without some - presumably governmental - kickstart. Look at pictures of the downtown in the 1970s. A lot of blocks have been abandoned or surface lots since then. Giving it more time isn't going to change the basic economic incentives at work here. A huge chunk of what development has occurred was driven by the city (Wortham, George R Brown, Toyota Center, new park, MMP, etc.) Look, I'm as capitalistic as the next guy, but I think it's hard to make the "free market" argument for downtown development when not a single other major city in the country has gone that way, and you sure don't see many trying to jump on the bandwagon. It just seems naive for the city to wait around and hope against hope that developers will somehow come up with better land use than just more parking lots. I think the numbers are on my side on this - property values are historically low here. Oh well.

Just call me frustrated.

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The lots will turn when it is worth it to turn them. It is hard to underestimate the effect the 2001 recession had on the MMP area. Ballpark Place was ready to go, but if the numbers aren't there, you don't build...no matter how hard us downtown boosters wish for it.

The GRB park is likely to see development first for many reasons. The GRB has events year-round versus only 6 months for MMP. The Hilton is booked up routinely, with 1300 rooms. Toyota has events year-round. Houston Pavilions is only a block away from the park. Houston Center is across the street. Development here will not stand alone, it will be in the middle of the mix. In time, this development will move north to the MMP area.

Harris County is inadvertantly helping MMP as well. The 8 block campus, which includes 2 new courthouses and 3 renovated ones, is pushing development to the edge of the MMP zone. With development on the south and west, it is only a matter of time before developers believe the ridiculous prices for land over there are worth it.

One must also look at all of downtown when asking why MMP hasn't boomed yet. The entire northern end has been renovated. Now, the center of downtown is getting attention. The park is making people look east. MMP, being on the edge, is going to come along last. But, since MMP is already there, it won't be as dangerous to build there.

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Houston has a history of slashing neighborhoods in two by slapping freeways down. The ultimate damage has been the noose placed around downtown: the Pierce elevated; 59 behind GRB, I10 behind UHD: damage not easily un-done. Our best efforts should be to remove the damage already done. The scab of 59 behind MMP would be a good next start. The problem is not that these freeways are there, it's the way they are there. If you are satisfied with the status-quo, then you should expect that land values in this part of the city will always be out of whack. Physical barriers are far more formidible than economic ones sometimes. Remove the physical and watch the economic ones fade away in this case. It takes planning and patience. Seattle figured it out. We can too.

B)

Edited by nmainguy

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Another thing...

Who wants to live near the nasty Jail/Sheriff Dept/Courthouse complex.

I guess it's "safter", but yuck.

Houston has a history of slashing neighborhoods in two by slapping freeways down.

Yea, and in Utopia they built a bunch of freeways in the middle nowhere. Then all the people move there and they were all happy. Still are happy from what I hear.

They are building a new one near Yokem and Sweet Home. I am going to check it out this weekend.

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Another thing...

Who wants to live near the nasty Jail/Sheriff Dept/Courthouse complex.

I guess it's "safter", but yuck.

It's not nasty anymore. Everything is brand new. And, all of the jails were moved across the bayou for exactly that reason. As for who would want to live there, I don't know, but if an office building or two is built, the lawyers will fill it up for easy access to the courts.

If the Federal Courts ever build their new facility at Capital and Austin, someone will surely see the opportunity for office tower development between the two complexes.

EDIT: The old jail is now records storage.

Edited by RedScare

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I drive or ride Congress every day. I guess I just think it's still ugly even though the sidewalks and streets are nice. The new Federal Reseve should have been built in this area.

Agree on office buildings. The new view of 5 Houston from this area is cool scince Cenikor was demolished.

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I drive or ride Congress every day. I guess I just think it's still ugly even though the sidewalks and streets are nice. The new Federal Reseve should have been built in this area.

Agree on office buildings. The new view of 5 Houston from this area is cool scince Cenikor was demolished.

It remains to be seen if the final piece of the plan, the underground Jury Assembly Room with the above ground square and fountain, aka, the homeless bathhouse, will "pull the whole the room together" as the Big Lebowski would say. Certainly, the renovation of the Family Law Center and restoration of the 1900 Courthouse will help.

We shall see.

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What's the deal with the Juvie court renovatoin? They built Rome faster.

You should've seen the inside PRIOR to the renovation. :lol:

They had to add detention cells. These take more time. It is due to open in May, with the new Civil Courthouse.

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Guest danax

Anyone have any idea what, if anything, is going to be replacing this ancient warehouse? It's surrounded by surface parking.

Picture from this evening.

qoc1ah.jpg

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Yep, they resumed work on that one this morning. They halted it last week for some reason.

I stoped by the check out the bricks. Nothing worth making into a patio.

BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS!

They are tearing down that hell hole trade center thing across from Vick & Anthonys. What the scoop on that?

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Cool. Hopefully they'll be open for lunch.

I never realised that was just a parking garage. It looks like something from the Brastislava School of Design.

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Guest danax
I stoped by the check out the bricks. Nothing worth making into a patio.

I obtained about 25 of them and had to really scrounge for those. Palmers and a few Corsicanas but they used concrete as mortar, which will not come off in most cases. I tried to clean them at home with my hammer and brick chisel and ended up tossing most of them, so you didn't miss much.

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Does anyone think Minute Maid Park and that area could use a parking garage, or is the area better off the way it is?

A garage was originally planned for MMP. It would have been between the ballpark and 59 where the surface lots are now. After the first season they realized that there was no need - there was already sufficient parking in the dozens of nearby garages and surface lots. Also, the "e-Square" development that was slated to be across 59 from the ballpark was cancelled, further reducing the need. It seems to be one of the few times that a downtown parking garage never came to be. Shame it hasn't happened again since.

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I'm not sure a parking garage for 30-40 thousand people arriving and departing at the same time is logisticly a good idea. Think about it.

B)

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You couldn't get this view at the dome...

minutemaidpark.jpg

I know some of you hate the courthouse in the distance. But it's still a nice view on a nice night. We've had season tickets for several years, and I still like going. It's a great ballpark, IMHO.

Go 'stros! Let's hope for a fun season.

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I really like the view as shown. The proximity the courthouses and all the old buildings give it a great urban downtown fee. At one point there was a plan for a condo tower that would have blocked the view - we should all be glad that never happened.

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I love the lobby of Union Station. I was there just yesterday picking up some of those Astros pocket schedules.

The Travel Channel aired a show the other day about ballpark foods and it included a little tour of the eateries at MMP: the two restaurants and Nolan Ryan cooking his burgers. The program was obviously a couple of years old. Why did they change from Nolan Ryan Burgers to Bubba Burgers anyway? Could they have picked a name worse than Bubba Burgers?

They also showed Union Station and the train above the stadium. It was a pretty neat show.

Edited by KimberlySayWhat

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I say OYE OYE OYE to the 'Stros, but I personally prefer the view from right-field :)

I like the view from right right field also, but the left-field view is the one I see each time I go, and it can be very nice. As it was last night in particular.

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Well it makes me feel a little better seeing that some of the yankee sports teams have it as their official stadium burger as well (Mets, Cubs). I thought it was a local thing.

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