New Entertainment Center Coming To Houston

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has announced the development of a massive Astros hotel and entertainment center next to Minute Maid Park! The new construction is designed to include a 17 story, four star hotel with a 300 room capacity along with a 60,000 square foot retail and entertainment space.

The goal of the project, as described by Astros General Counsel Giles Kibbe, is to create an entertainment district that will give people a reason to visit downtown year round. The complex is expected to include a variety of restaurants and stores, along with an indoor tailgating space and a viewing area for a massive jumbotron intended to be hung on the side of Minute Maid Park. Residents of the hotel will also enjoy access to a skybridge that provides a direct path into the club area of Minute Maid Park. “If you want to go to a public place to watch a sporting event,” Kibbe claims that “this is going to be the spot” even when the Astros aren’t playing.

It has been speculated that the project may also include spaces for musical acts to perform, along with Astros theming that may extend to the businesses and hotel within the entertainment center. This deliberate theming could go a long way towards enticing fans to visit, however Kibbe indicated that certain standards would need to be met in order to attract visiting baseball teams to stay there. Which hotel brand and other businesses will be featured in the complex is still unconfirmed, leaving it somewhat unclear how the final interior of the center will look.

Certain previous events such as the superbowl of 2004 in Houston, which resulted in a sharp rise in both the creation, then closures of downtown businesses, have led some to question whether the project is the right idea for the city. While in 2004, many businesses that sprung up for the influx of tourism struggled to survive after the event’s conclusion, the 2017 superbowl crowd witnessed the opening of a massive 1,000 room Marriott Hotel, which has continued to thrive after the fact. The new entertainment district is modeled after similar destinations located in close proximity to sports stadiums, such as Ballpark Village in St. Louis or The Battery in Atlanta. These similar mixed-use developments are also owned and financed by sports teams in their respective areas, and have experienced great success in attracting visitors year-round for a wide variety of events. With these other complexes serving as the blueprint for success, the new project has been valued above $14 million and will be privately funded. Although Astros Owner Jim Crane has been laying the groundwork for the expansion by acquiring over 2 acres of neighboring lots in 2016 and 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed construction, likely until November of 2024. It is speculated that the project will take 3 years to develop, although no definitive timeline has currently been released.

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