The Houston Astros sent me a little fan survey last week, wanting my thoughts on the so-called fan experience at Minute Maid Park. There were some rather standard questions about where I usually sit, what price I usually pay for tickets and for parking.
There weren't, however, very many questions about the actual fan experience inside the park, or what could be done to improve said experience for the Astros fans. So I thought I would take advantage of my little forum here to tell the Astros what I think they can do to improve the fan experience at MMP.
6. I'm on the record as thinking that MMP is a joke of a ballpark. That said, there is one aspect of MMP that puts it up there with the best of the new ballparks (AT&T Park, Camden Yards, Coors Field, PNC Park), and that's the view of the downtown skyline one gets from looking out the left field windows. Well, used to get since Jim Crane has put up some kind of awful, gigantic quilt-type billboard that essentially blocks the entire damn view of the skyline.
Seriously, if there's one thing MMP doesn't need, it's more advertising. And to take away the one redeeming feature of the stadium for more advertising makes it worse. How much longer until the left field out-of-town games scoreboard is replaced by advertising? So tear down that damn thing and give us back our view.
5. Speaking of advertising, would you please get rid of those damn Chick-fil-A foul poles. I do not care about Chick-fil-A's politics. It's more about I don't like seeing the foul poles cluttered with illiterate advertising.
Didn't anyone think this through? Didn't anyone think that if cows could actually write that maybe, just maybe, they'd also know how to spell? So just embrace traditionalism and give us a yellow pole with no advertising. And if you can't do that, at least get some cows who can spell to write the messages.
4. The Astros have started displaying fan tweets on the scoreboard before the game and, occasionally, between innings. All you have to do is stick a #AstrosMMP hashtag on the end of your tweet. Of course, there's a catch, someone's reading and approving the messages before they go up, and it appears that that person's only allowing the most innocuous and most inane tweets to go up on the board. You know, the standard "hi Mom," or "I'm in section 134," or "Go Astros" messages.
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While you shouldn't allow profanity or sexual content on the board, what's the problem with displaying some real messages from the fans? Allow the occasional criticism of Brad Mills on the board, or a #freeBrettWallace message to go up every now and then. Let the fans know they're being heard.
3. The Tampa Bay Rays had post-game concerts from ZZ Top and 3 Doors Down this season -- they've got The Wiggles coming up next month for the little kids. But all Astros fans ever get are Christian bands. Why not steal from the Rays and do something for us heathens? We go to the games, too, and we also spend money at the park, so could it really hurt to book some post-game heathen concerts?
2. I don't have kids. And I would think that if you're bringing kids to the game, then you want them to actually learn about the game. But I have been informed by parents that I know that there's not much at MMP for the kids to do. I know that AT&T Park in San Francisco has a nice playground area for the kids. So maybe the Astros should consider doing a little something for the kids and their parents.
1. And while you're at it, would you finally get rid of Tal Hill's? I would ask you to get rid of that stupid choo-choo train, but you can't see it anymore because of that new advertising monstrosity in left field, so forget about it and just bulldoze the hill.