The Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Insider

After new deal, Astros will call Minute Maid Park home until 2050

Minute Maid Park will host the Astros for a long time. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Allsport/Getty Images

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The deal was complicated. Complex. Could have even been a tad bit contentious at times during discussions. Who knows?

But there’s only one thing that matters.

The Houston Astros will call Minute Maid Park home through 2050.

At a time when some cities are bickering with their professional teams about facilities, the Harris County -- Houston Sports Authority Board of Directors and the Astros announced a 25-year extension of the Astros' lease Monday afternoon. The team’s original lease was set to expire in 2030.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner called it a win-win. And a win.

“It’s a big, big plus,’’ Turner said. “Minute Maid is a big fan favorite and not just in the City of Houston. We don’t have to build a stadium every 20 years like some cities are doing.

“There will continue to be improvements and that means it will continue to be a state of the art facility. The Astros are going to be here for a long time. It’s a win-win for the Houston Sports Authority and the Houston Astros. And most of all for the City of Houston.’’

And it may get even better. Astros owner Jim Crane loves the feel of being downtown and the team has already purchased several properties surrounding Minute Maid – the former New Hope Housing projects on Hamilton Street and properties adjacent to the park on Texas.

“It’s a great stadium,’’ Crane said. “Downtown is starting to grow and we wanted to remain right in the middle of it. Downtown is thriving so it’s the spot to be.

“We want to make a long-term commitment to the stadium, keep it up to date and make it a great fan experience for all of our fans.’’

Astros president Reid Ryan indicated fan upgrades could include more gates and more efficient foot traffic flow in and out of the stadium.  An underground restaurant and more community areas are other ideas Crane mentioned. The club already spent money to remove Tal’s Hill from center field and add a new center field concourse, which features food from Houston restaurants.

The lease extension includes a rent increase of $1 million beginning this year for the remainder of the original lease (through 2030) and an additional $1 million increase for the 20-year extension (through 2050). A majority of the increases will go towards maintenance and repairs at Minute Maid.

"The Sports Authority's Board of Directors has worked very hard to be a good landlord to the team, as well as to protect the community's investment and ensure that the stadium remains state-of-the-art," Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Chairman J. Kent Friedman said.

"The venue has been a great addition to the downtown landscape for fans and players alike. The Sports Authority is proud to support our reigning World Champions, and this lease extension furthers the commitment to maintaining Minute Maid Park for many years to come."

Crane, who had expressed interest in an extension three years ago, said the team didn’t want to wait until the end of the lease to take care of an extension.

“It’s difficult to build stadiums now,’’ he said. “These guys – the city and the county -- have done a great job of supporting us.’’

Both Turner and County Judge Ed Emmett pointed to Crane’s  commitment to the city. And, now, the city’s commitment to him.

“Everywhere you go now, people are wearing Astros stuff,’’ Emmett said. “You are the community. This community has just bought into the class act that is the Houston Astros…This is a thrilling day.”

 

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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