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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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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