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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Yordan Alvarez provided the offense to back up more stellar pitching by the Astros as they took ALCS game 6 to advance to the 2021 World Series. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this series in Houston then falling behind in the series 2-1 by dropping the first of three games in Boston, the Astros took over the ALCS in Games 4 and 5, sending them back to their home crowd with a chance to finish things off in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. After another stellar performance by their pitching staff and more timely hitting, they would accomplish that mission, winning the series and moving on to the 2021 World Series.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston wins 4-2

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Houston strikes first to start tightly-contested Game 6

After a scoreless top of the first inning by Boston's offense, the Astros capitalized on a chance to be first to score in the bottom of the frame. Alex Bregman started the two-out rally, reaching base on a single against Nathan Eovaldi for the first hit of the night. Yordan Alvarez followed, delivering his sixth RBI of the series with a double to put Houston on top 1-0.

That did not spark further immediate scoring, as the one-run score held while both starting pitchers provided solid outings for their team. For Eovaldi, he was able to limit Houston to just that single run through four frames. He returned in the bottom of the fifth, facing two batters, allowing a single, and getting a strikeout to end his night.

Garcia impresses in big start

For the home team, they were recipients of another expectation-exceeding performance from one of their young arms. Only anticipated to go a handful of innings, Luis Garcia worked efficiently and effectively against Boston, keeping them scoreless and hitless through five innings. He continued in the sixth, getting two more outs before allowing a two-out triple, ending his night as Phil Maton would enter to strand the tying run. Garcia's final line: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 P.

With both teams dipping into their bullpens, the Astros took advantage of Boston's as Yordan Alvarez's dominance went on display once again. He led the inning off with a triple, then scored on a double-play ball to extend Houston's lead to 2-0. Kendall Graveman took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and worked himself into a big moment. He gave up a one-out walk, followed by a single, which put runners on the corners for Boston. He continued to struggle with the zone, falling behind the next batter 3-1, but was able to battle back to get the strikeout paired with a terrific throw by Martin Maldonado to cut down the runner from first trying to steal second, ending the inning and maintaining the two-run advantage.

Astros headed to the World Series

Ryne Stake was Houston's next reliever, and he put Houston three outs away by getting a 1-2-3 eighth. With Ryan Pressly warming, he watched and hoped that his offense could give him some more insurance to work with when he went to the mound in the top of the ninth. His wish would be granted, as after getting two on base, Kyle Tucker would put a major exclamation point on the night's offense, hitting a three-run opposite-field homer to the Crawford Boxes to push the lead to 5-0.

Pressly, now with the five-run lead, came on to try and start the celebration by getting the final three outs. Against the tougher part of Boston's order, he would get a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Astros the American League pennant, which along with those won in 2017 and 2019, puts them back in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Up Next: The Astros will have three days off before The Fall Classic kicks off. While Game 1 will be on Tuesday, October 26th, nothing else has yet been determined as Houston awaits to see which of the Dodgers and Braves will advance out of the NL, which will also dictate if the Astros will host or travel to World Series Game 1.

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