Friday, February 10, 2012

Minute Maid Park Tour

Remember when I gave Jeff tickets for a behind-the-scenes tour of Minute Maid Park (Houston's baseball stadium) for our anniversary forever ago? We finally used them! 

Our tour started in "Union Station." Minute Maid Park used to be a train station back in the day, and they've restored the original station building to it's original glory. Now it serves as the main entrance to the ballpark. People have weddings there sometimes too!

Old Train Ticket Booth

Union Station

Union Station

Outside of Union Station, headed into the ballpark

We entered the ballpark and went straight to the top - from here you could see the whoooole stadium, and we learned all about the retractable roof!

The whole stadium!

A lovely view of the courthouse where I worked last summer. :)

Our next stop was one of the luxury suites! These things cost upwards of $2,500 for just one game. Most of them are reserved by big Houston companies for the entire season. 



Next we walked down to the Club Level, where they have the team photos from every year since the Astros started playing (with the exception of one year when there was an MLB strike).






Next, we got to go inside the press area! 


We saw the writers' room, which was actually smaller than I expected! I got to sit in the Associated Press seat. 


The writers' room is also home to the stadium announcer and closed captioning typist. That's the microphone right there!


Also in the writers' room is the computer where the official scorekeeper sits. This was so unimpressive to me. I feel like the official scorekeeper should at least get two monitors, and maybe an office of his own. Instead he has a measly few inches of a desk he shares with a bunch of press writers. 


The Writers' Room


Entrance to the TV Room

This is where the TV people are during the game!

Great view from the TV Room!

Lighting Equipment

Those rooms through the window are the radio rooms.

Next, we got to go down into the "Diamond Club," aka the place where the fancy Houstonians get to go when they go to Astros games. Here's the fancy staircase (with baseball carpet!):


Entrance to the Diamond Club

Diamond Club bar & dinner area

Diamond Club seat packages start at $40,000 for the first year, so it's safe to say we won't be back in that room anytime soon. 

View from the Diamond Club seats!

Jeff in a Diamond Club seat (they have cushions!!)

Those two empty seats are where President Bush (the first one) and Barbara Bush sit!

Next, we got to go down on the field and walk around the whole thing! We weren't allowed to touch the grass, but we did get to see it all up close!


Umm... I have a really attractive husband. I go crazy for a man in cowboy boots. That's all I have to say about this photo. 

We even got to go sit in the Astros' dugout! So cool!





The grass is so, so green. It's actually imported from Argentina, and there's a whole staff of people that cut it every single day to make sure it grows just right. 




Here's the giant TV screen! It looks way bigger when you're standing right below it than it does when you're sitting across the stadium...


Our Tour Guide

The Minute Maid Park Train
(it moves along the tracks when someone gets a home run, or if the Astros win the game)

We got to go inside the bullpen too! 



Did I mention that the grass is SO green? Haha... I must've taken a million photos of it.


My favorite part of the whole tour was when we got to go behind the manual scoreboard. Minute Maid Park has a giant scoreboard that shows all the scores for all MLB games, and it's entirely manual (guys stand behind it and hang each number as the scores change). 


Here it is in action during a game!

Anyway, I've always wondered what it's like back there during the game, how they reach the high ones, how many guys operate it, if they can see out, etc. And we got to go inside and see it all!!! Here it is from the inside:



extra numbers



team names

They can see out... but only when they're switching the numbers! Pretty good view though. :)

Houston!

There are actually 4-8 guys operating the scoreboard during any game, and there's an upstairs and a downstairs behind it (so a few guys are on the top level the whole time). So cool. 

Pretty scoreboard!

Another view of the whole stadium...

On our way out, we got to touch the "padding" that the outfielders run into sometimes when they're trying to catch a ball. Let me tell you... that stuff is NOT soft. I mean... it's better than a concrete wall I guess, but it was pretty hard! The kids on the tour had a blast running into it over and over again!


It was so weird being in the stadium while it was empty. So many seats!!!



It was a really fun tour, and definitely worth the few dollars I paid for the Groupon tickets! Houstonians: they actually do these every day, multiple times a day, and tickets are only $9 regularly. We both really enjoyed it!

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