The Houston Astros extended their ballpark lease through 2050, with plans to revamp the ballpark into Minute Maid Park 2.0 in years to come.
The original Minute Maid Park lease agreement was set to expire in March of 2030, but with the approval of Harris County – Houston Sports Authority Board of Directors last night, the Astros will stay at the team’s second home through 2050. And with the lease extension, the Astros are mapping out the facility’s future.
“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,” said Sports Authority Chairman J. Kent Friedman. “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.”
The details of the lease extension include a rent increase in the amount 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). The majority of these funds will be directed towards maintenance and capital repairs at Minute Maid Park.
“The Astros look forward to furthering our investment in downtown Houston and calling Minute Maid Park our home through 2050,” said Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane. “We appreciate the commitment of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority to keep the Astros in the heart of downtown, and we remain committed to making the fan experience at Minute Maid Park first class.”
The extension comes as much through necessity as anything else. While there are some issues with Minute Maid Park—the place positively sprawls—it’s nothing that can’t be addressed with a renovation. Minute Maid Park has been a big part of a downtown Houston renaissance, and with that renaissance comes higher land prices and tighter availability, two factors in the Astros committing early to renovations, rather than contemplating a future new ballpark.
For Crane and team president Reid Ryan, that means generating some ideas for future upgrades and hiring Cincinnati-based MSA Sport to turn those ideas into reality. From the Houston Chronicle:
“We’ve got a number of things we think we can do to improve the ballpark still on the drawing board,” Crane said. “More community areas, maybe an underground restaurant underneath the scoreboard — there’s a lot of things we can do — increase some of the premium areas. We’ll continue to look at it and continue to make those investments. “
Crane said the club has met with outside investors to address the stadium’s exterior and surging downtown surroundings, too. Rerouting U.S. 59 and Interstate 45 below grade on the stadium’s southwest side could open areas for a possible ballpark village, Ryan indicated.
“Downtown is thriving, it’s the spot to be, and we just wanted to make a long-term commitment to maintain the ballpark, keep it up to date and make it a great fan experience for our city and be right in the center of the action,” Crane said.