In an unexpected announcement, the Houston Astros have revealed plans to remove Tal’s Hill from Minute Maid Park for the 2016 season. The famous hill beyond the warning track in center field has seen its supporters and detractors, but the unique fixture will be removed this offseason. The Astros will bring in the fence in center field, placing the wall 409 feet from home plate, instead of its current distance of 436 feet.
The replacement of Tal’s Hill is in an effort to modernize the centerfield area in the stands. The new space behind the fence will be used for concessions and a fan-friendly place to watch the game. At this time, there are no plans to add extra paid seats to that area. The renovation is expected to cost $15 million and the tab will be picked up by the Astros franchise, rather than the taxpayers of Houston. Other upgrades such as an Astros Hall of Fame in the centerfield area is planned, but not a part of this round of renovations.
This announcement comes as the Astros are having their best season by average attendance at Minute Maid Park since 2011. Houston also ranks 9th in the American League in total attendance, something they have not done since ranking ninth out of 16 teams in the National League during the 2009 season. The Astros have played like one of the best teams in baseball to this point of the 2015 season, with a six game lead in the American League West. That lead is tied with the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central for the largest current division lead in MLB.
Throughout the month of June, Astros tickets have an average price of $129.96 on the secondary market. The biggest games for Houston in June will come during a four-game series with the New York Yankees at the end of the month. Two of those four games currently have an average price above $200.