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Hot Time, Summer in the City, Minute Maid Park Sure Is…

From what I understand, Minute Maid Park was a bit of an uncomfortable place to be this weekend, and not just because the Yankees were beating up on the Astros. It appears that though Drayton hiked the prices for the games, he didn’t turn on the A/C. And from what I’ve read, this isn’t the first time this season that this has happened.

Richard Justice first mentioned the uncomfortable conditions last month, but I passed it off as being one of those early season things and the Astros MMP crew not having their roof and air-conditioning rhythms down yet. But anybody who read the comments to Brian McTaggart’s Sunday blog post is fully aware of what those who were in attendance this weekend discovered: MMP was a miserably hot place to be.

Now I haven’t attended a game at MMP since April – and those several times I went the roof was open because the weather was still nice. So I haven’t had a chance to experience the roof closed this season. I have, in years past, sat in the upper deck, and have found it to be a rather unpleasantly hot place to sit in July and August. And I’ve learned to never sit on the first base side of MMP because that damn left field window blinds everyone. But I’ve never had a heat problem sitting in the lower deck. However, the press guys sit on the lower deck, and if they’re hot, then the lower deck is hot, and if the lower deck is hot, I don’t want to know how bad it is up top.

After reading some of the comments at the Chron – my favorite involves the pigeon crapping in a fan’s popcorn – I decided to ask my friend and co-worker Robert Rodriguez just how bad it was at Saturday’s game. Robert says he and his wife were sitting in the upper deck in section 415, row 8.

I’ll let Robert take it from here: “We arrived toward the end of Astros batting practice and immediately noticed it was very hot in our section. My wife said that probably at the start of the game we’ll get some air. Well, it never happened….By the third inning she was telling me that she was sweating and wanted to go home…By the fifth inning I wanted to go home because I felt so uncomfortable. We were buying so many sodas and water, but what we needed was AIR, COLD AIR. Maybe that was what they wanted us to do, spend as much money as we can on the overpriced water, sodas, and beer….What helped us were the free rally towels that were given to the first 30,000 fans, and ours were drenched with sweat.”

Bravo, Drayton, bravo. Not only are you fielding an awful product, but you’re doing everything within your power to drive fans away. It’s bad enough that you took advantage of the Yankees to hike prices an unconscionable amount, but it looks as though you made every effort to make the fans as uncomfortable as possible while fleecing them of their money.

This is not a way to keep a fan base.

And as someone who’s gone to my fair share of games at MMP, I’ve just got to ask: Drayton, don’t you care? I’ve been to games where the seats were just filthy and no one wanted to sit in them and we had trouble getting them cleaned. I’ve seen people climbing all over the seats with the ushers making no attempt to stop them. You generally don’t allow people in to watch batting practice. The concession prices make concessions in New York, Chicago and San Francisco look cheap – the only place I’ve been with higher prices is Turner Field in Atlanta.

I just don’t get why Drayton doesn’t care about the fans who don’t sit in the seats immediately behind home plate. It’s the fans who sit in the outfield or up in the upper deck who help the team make a profit. These fans are generally the diehards. These fans are the ones the team is going to need if the team continues to suck because those people in the rich seats, and those people in the suites, will find other uses for their money.

So, Drayton, there’s nothing you can do about the ticket prices now – though maybe chopping the prices the next time the Pirates or Reds come to town might be a good idea – but the least you can do is get the air conditioning working by the time the Red Sox come to town. After all, the fans for those games are paying the same jacked up prices as the people who went to the Yankees series. And if you’re not going to field a good team, the least you can do is to make your fan base comfortable.

And fans, here’s your chance. If you want to complain, I’m giving you the space. Talk about the heat. Talk about the lousy team. Talk about the concession prices. I’m here for you. Just leave a comment. – John Royal


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