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Houston Astros to host two tailgating events this season at Minute Maid Park

Thursday, March 29, 2012

To say last season was rough for the Houston Astros may be an understatement. But the team is hoping a new city ordinance will help draw fresh enthusiasm come Opening Day.

Just days away from their season opener and another season of promise for the 'Stros, this year the team is trying something new to drum up team spirit.

On the heels of a dismal Astros season, the team is looking off the field for ways to enhance the fan experience.

"Most fans and season ticket holders are supportive of tailgating," said George Postolos with the Astros.

In response to the Houston Dynamo's desire for tailgating at its new stadium, the city of Houston recently lifted a ban on tailgating downtown. So the Astros are testing out two tailgating dates in June, with one day will be alcohol-free targeted toward teens ages 13-18.

The next date will be a more traditional tailgating event like you'd find at a Houston Texans game, where alcohol can be consumed. This will be in a tented area inside a parking lot near the stadium. The Astros have candidly admitted some season ticket holders are concerned about the effect of additional drinking on the game experience.

"We're trying to balance that, figure out a way to have tailgating, but still address the concerns that some of our fans have," Postolos said.

Most fans we spoke to seem supportive.

"I think it'd be good for the area," said Shikarra Gore.

"Last year wasn't a very good year and I think this will help a lot," said Herbert Peck.

Some though worry about any additional alcohol consumption.

"There's enough drinking going on during the game and it's just not as long as the football games," said Kris Anenberg.

Businesses near the ballpark see tailgating as a boon for business in a downtown district that still is not the destination many have hoped it might be.

"It's one of the only cities that I've ever been in that after 8pm, it's dead," said Dee Dee Ducharne with Home Plate Bar & Grill.

The bar is putting thousands of dollars into expansion as a result of the promise that tailgating might bring in customers, hoping to capture crowds who might come early and stay late.

So the Astros will try out tailgating on those two dates -- June 1st and June 2nd -- and provide food an beverages, and fans are welcome to bring their own food and beverages.

Depending upon how things go, the Astros will then decide whether to expand tailgating the next season.

The decision to host Astros' tailgates this season coincides with several fan friendly initiatives announced by Astros owner Jim Crane earlier this year including a reduction in ticket pricing at various levels and a new policy allowing fans to bring food and water into Minute Maid Park.

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houston astros, minute maid park, mlb, local, kevin quinn
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