Situated at the eastern end of downtown Houston, Enron Field opened in 2000 and
replaced the Astrodome, which had become an outdated relic just thirty five years after its
opening as the "8th wonder of the world". With this in mind the builders of Enron sought to
create a facility that would surpass the expectations brought about by such a nickname.
The 9th wonder so to speak.

Outside the facility
The immediate neighborhood doesn't exactly have the best surroundings. Vacant lots and
old warehouses are in abundance, and the Enron Field district remains a work in progress.
Yet signs of revitalization can be found. Near the homeplate entrance the first sports bar
just opened and others will be soon to follow in the neighborhood. Breaking ground soon
will be a thirty story office/retail/lofts complex going up across from the left field entrance.
Quite honestly, we were a bit disappointed with the ambience of the adjoining
neighborhood - right there are the gleaming skyscrapers and wealth of Houston, a
stunning ball park, and blight sandwiched in between. We are returning to Houston in 2002
to visit Reliant Stadium - we will be back to tour the Enron district and hope to see a lot of
improvement.

At the corner where the 3rd base side meets left field one will find the signature edifice
and the inspiration for the theme and design of the ballpark. Here is Houston?s Union
Station, once the main rail terminal serving the city, but as the years went on the building
was closed and it fell into disrepair. Thanks to the construction of the new ballpark, this old
landmark was beautifully restored to look like it did in its heyday during the early 20th
century. The offices of the Astros baseball club can be found in the upper floors and the
top floor and the roof can be reserved for private parties. The view of the action from the
roof is amongst the most breathtaking in all of sports so if it's possible be sure to make
your way there!!!! At ground level is the main merchandise shop "The Shed" with all kinds
of Astros souvenirs and apparel available.

Other than the old rail terminal, one can enter the park through dramatic canopied
walkways, at left, center, and right field as well at home plate. Above the home plate
entrance stands a clock tower with carillons chiming on the hour. A clock with the Enron
Field inscription also is displayed on each side, and looks rather impressive when
illuminated at night!!!

The Concourses
The theme of the old rail terminal resonates throughout the building, but nowhere else is
this more prevalent than in the concourses. They are filled with images and logos
consistent with such a place. If you are hungry you can stop at stands such as Spud?s
Crossing, Sheriff Blaylock's Nachos, Hot Dog Express, and Peter's favorite the Diamond
Pretzel Company (note the nostalgic rail photos at the back of the stands). Need a
souvenir?? Check out the Supply Company stands located throughout the facility.

The concourse that runs behind the left field fence is known as the Conoco Home Run
Alley. Here hangs many banners of the all time leading home run hitters in Astros history
and several displays of Astros memorabilia past and present. Also overlooking the field is a
replica Conoco gas pump that keeps track of the number of Astros homers that have been
hit since Enron opened in 2000. There is plenty of standing room from which to view the
field along a good stretch of this concourse.

Ruggles is a sports bar and grill in the center field portion of the concourse. Here you can
kick back and have a full meal while watching the game or many other televised events that
are on multiple monitors throughout the restaurant. (Yes, on Saturday we caught the
closing minutes of our Sabres 8-0 shellacking of the Flyers right here at Ruggles!) Also
there is plenty of room for those who want chill out with friends at the bar for a drink or two.

If you are someone who is with the family and your kids are getting bored with the action on
the field, take them over to the Squeeze Play area. Here are plenty of interactive games
geared towards the young ones and plenty of picnic tables to have a slushie or a bite to eat
while the kids take some batting practice. For the fan who enjoys an artistic sports
experience there is The Gallery of Enron Field with many fine works of sports related art.

Plenty of preferred seating to be had here at Enron with plenty of club seats and suites.
Views of the action on the field can be had from almost anywhere on the club concourse
here, and in a new twist the view is from behind glass so one would still be indoors. For the
real heavy hitters there is the Diamond Club located right behind home plate. Just to give a
small hint of the clientele that can be found here, we met and shared a few words with
Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. and we just missed seeing former President George Bush
by a few minutes!! Everything here is fantastically done with a Texas flair.

The Seating Area
This venue's seating consists of the lower, club, suite, and upper level found in most
newer venues. However there are some areas unique to Enron, most notably the Crawford
Boxes, a small and intimate box seating area located near the left field foul pole. Also near
center field is a patio restaurant with several levels of tables with a view of the action.

High above right field is the massive retractable roof which makes both open air and
indoor baseball possible. Just beneath it is where the scoreboard sits alongside several
large ads and a videoboard. A message board unique to Enron is found underneath the
Miller Lite ad as it caters to those who are hearing impaired, a very nice touch. We are
surprised not to have seen this else where. Atop the ads and scoreboards is a giant
ENRON FIELD marquee.

Above the left field pavilion is a set of railroad tracks upon which a steam locomotive sits.
The locomotive lets off steam and moves down the tracks when the Astros win and
whenever an Astros home run is hit.

Retired numbers + banners
Above the seating on the 3rd base side are the names and numbers of Houston greats
Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, Don Wilson, and Peter?s favorite Jose CRUUUUUUUUUUUUZZZZ!  
Another interesting sign that caught our eye was a fan?s banner in support of a grassroots
movement to have J.R. Richard's number retired. To quote a certain sneaker company ad,
the roadtrippers say "Just Do It!" Just below the railroad tracks above the left field
pavilion hang the flags from the Astros five division championships -40 years and no World
Series - yet.

Extra Points
Other than Wrigley Field, there is no better place to catch the 7th inning stretch than right
here at Enron. Of course they play the standard "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", but it is the
classic rendition of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" that makes this experience so special.
The fans sing, they clap and if you are a visitor this alone is worth the price of admission!!!

For eight bucks a pop grab your self a "yard of al"? 28 ounces of your favorite brew in the
classic tall, lanky mug.

Bison watch - tip of the cap to former Buffalo Bisons Moises Alou and Orlando Merced,
both wearing Astros uniforms.

Summary
Spectacular new venue, so wonderful that we are struggling as to whether this be our new
favorite ballpark. Forget about NASA and the Spacecenter, or the Galleria, or a day at the
beach in Galveston. When you are in Houston COME HERE and enjoy a night or two at the
ballpark. Best of all, we come back here in 2002 to visit the Compaq Center and Reliant
Stadium as part of the Ultimate Sports Road Trip. Experiencing the warm and friendly
hospitality of these terrific Texans will make our return a date to look forward to!

Special thanks go to many - at the top of the list is Astros Promotion Coordinator Yvette
Casares, who gave us the "mother of all ballpark tours" and introduced us to many famous
personalities, such as Astros Chairman Drayton McLane Jr. and Astros broadcasters Milo
Hamilton and Alan Ashby. Also thanks to Media Relations Director Todd Fedewa and the
Texas hospitality provided by all of the fans we talked to, and enjoyed listening to us
babble endlessly about our travels.

SCORING:
Architecture 7.5
Concessions 7
Scoreboard 6
Ushers 8
Fan Support 7
Location 6
Banners/History 6
Entertainment 8
Concourses/fan comfort 7.5
Bonus
USRT Red carpet treatment 4; 7th inning stretch 2, Ex president often in the building, and he’s not “W” 1
Total 70
Minute Maid Park
#80



Minute Maid
Park    



Houston,
Texas



April 21-22
2001
St. Louis
Cardinals at
Houston Astros

(Note -
originally
named The
Ballpark at
Union Station,
naming rights
renamed venue
to "Enron
Field", and
renamed
"Astros Field"
in February
of 2002.
Renamed
Minute Maid
Park in May of
2002.)




Return visit



April 5,
2004       




San Francisco
Giants
at
Houston
Astros