Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Astros made it official on Monday breaking ground on the ballpark’s newest upgrade.
Tal’s Hill which has been a Minute Maid Park staple since opening as Enron Field more than a decade and a half ago will no longer be a part of the stadium going forward.
The plan now is to move the centerfield wall from 436 feet (deepest in all of baseball) to now 409 feet.
“I think if a guy hit’s one 410′ it deserves to be a home run,” Reid Ryan Astros President of Business Operations said, “409′ was sort of the right area the fit as far as the distance to home plate.”
Ryan mentioned that General Manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff had all been consulted and are all ok with the new ballpark dimensions.
The new 409-foot centerfield will still be among some of the deepest in all of baseball, but it will no longer be the by far and away farthest in the majors.
“It’s pretty natural so it’s not a big deal,” Astros owner Jim Crane said of the renovation, “we just think it helps us utilize the park, certainly it was unique and some people really like it, some people really didn’t really like it, but really taking all that into consideration we are just really trying to improve the ballpark and the ballpark experience, impacting the game we don’t it will be all that much.”
Going in the place of Tal’s Hill will not be more seats but instead, a place for people meet and hang out.
“There was really no communal gathering spot inside the ballpark,” Ryan said, “we need to figure out as an industry how to continue to grow our fan base for the millennials, we think this is a step in the right direction where they want TV’s, they want craft beer, they want food choices, they want an experience where they can come out and visit watch the game, and stay after and come early, we think that’s what we are creating.”
People may be disappointed that the Hill one of the most unique features in all of baseball will be going away, but the Astros are spending about 19 million on the renovations to make fan experience better.
Next year without the wall, expect to see a little more offense and a lot more restaurants and options to watch the game.