Opened in 2000, the home to major league baseball’s Houston Astros offers fans safety and comfort befitting a climate that can be as unpredictable as a Texas Tornado. With it’s location near the Gulf of Mexico, Minute Maid Park needed to be built to withstand severe winds and still showcase the big skies and beautiful weather that Houston is known for. Uni-Systems went to work and created a retractable roof that exposes more sky than any other when open and is hurricane-proof when closed.
The parabolic roof design is shaped to follow the flight path of a batted ball. This gives fans incredible sightlines during games and few, if any, visual obstructions to compete with your enjoyment of the game. The retractable roof is comprised of three independent panels with a unique load distribution that, thanks to a cost efficient design, resulted in significant construction cost savings. The tri-paneled design creates a giant opening, measuring over six and a half acres, allowing for a live-grass field, and making it a truly authentic playing surface.
Before games and during inning changes, fans at Minute Maid Park are treated with the sight of a full-size, working train and the unique “Running Man” interactive game. Operating using state-of-the-art components, the train replicates a vintage locomotive from 150 years ago. Running on 800 feet of track on the left-field wall of the stadium, the 56-footlong train travels parallel to the retractable roof rails. The train’s audio system can be heard both inside the stadium bowl and on the street. Along with making train noises like the sounds of pistons chuffing and the chug-chug of the engine, the system also plays familiar songs such as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and more.
The “Running Man” interactive game provides play for children who attend baseball games or other events at the ballpark. Children race from a pretend 3rd base to home plate against a 15-foot-tall “baseball player,” who glides on a track below floor grade. The goal is for the child to reach home plate before the player does, and to have a memory that lasts a lifetime.