Astros Planning a Game Changer Development in Downtown

HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – The Houston Astros, like every other major league baseball team, plays 162 games a year. And half of those games are on the road.

On the days the Astros’ downtown stadium has no beer-drinking, no hotdog-eating, or orange-clad fans cheering, it can be a bit quiet around Minute Maid Park. When the Astros aren’t playing, the blocks around the stadium on the eastern edge of downtown seem to be taking a nap.

But what if the Astros could expand the entertainment offerings and draw customers and generate revenue on 200, 300 or even 365 days a year?

The Astros have been working on stadium-adjacent development plans with Hines, the global real estate developer based in Houston.

The preliminary plan sketches a vision for a 17-story, 300-room hotel, and 60,000-SF of restaurants and retail, with a giant outdoor video screen for watching games – baseball and other sports. The HKS architecture firm is consulting on the plan.

The proposed site, which is controlled by Jim Crane, the billionaire owner of the Astros, is a two-acre parcel bounded by Texas Avenue, Capitol, Hamilton, and Avenida de las Americas, adjacent to the baseball stadium.

The Astros organization has been studying the concept for several years, but the planning has been elongated by the Covid era and deliberations about improving downtown’s freeway system, said Giles Kibbe, senior vice president and general counsel for the Houston Astros LLC.

Although there appears to be plenty of planning preparation left to be done, Kibbe wants to shift into a faster-forward mode in 2024.

“We are hoping to break ground before the end of next year,” Kibbe told Central Houston’s State of Downtown annual meeting last week.

The Astros organization is no stranger to hotel development. In 2017, the Astros acquired a vacant 10-story office building in West Palm Beach, Fla. It was redeveloped into a 191-room Hilton Garden Inn that provides housing while the team is in Spring Training and its hotel rooms are available to the public the remainder of the year.

Kibbe said the new Houston hotel would attract visiting teams when they came to town to play against the Astros.

Hines is currently developing a baseball stadium with a significant amount of adjacent development near the Gulf Coast of Florida. In late September Hines announced that the firm is developing a new Major League Baseball stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Florida development will have over 5,000 residential units, 1.4 million SF of office, 750 hotel rooms, seniors housing and 750,000 SF of retail.

Rendering of stadium Hines is developing in Florida for the Tampa Bay Rays

Rendering of new Tampa Bay Rays stadium to be developed by Hines in Florida. Image courtesy Hines.

In Minneapolis, Hines is building a high-rise mixed-use development adjacent to the Target Field stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins. Hines’s new project, called North Loop Green, will  include a 35-story residential tower and a 14-story office tower, 17,000 SF of food and beverage offerings, and a one-acre public green space.

In its hometown of Houston, the leadership of the Hines organization appear to be big fans of the Houston Astros, sometimes seated on the front row behind home plate in televised games. Minute Maid Park is within walking distance of the Texas Tower, a new Hines skyscraper at 845 Texas Avenue where Hines, which was founded in Houston in 1957,  has its global headquarters.

Today, the Astros are rounding third base and headed for home with a plan to build what would be  gigantic sports bar with an outdoor jumbo TV screen, other restaurants, retailers and a 300-room hotel that would be suitable for business travelers and conventioneers. If the Astros’ entertainment project materializes successfully, it would be a momentum builder for all of downtown Houston – as well as a regional tourist attraction and an addition to the downtown convention package.

“We know that this is a lot bigger than just the Astros,’ Kibbe said.

Nov. 7, 2023 Realty News Report Copyright 2023

Feature image: Photo of concept renderings  for Astros planned entertainment complex which were displayed at the State of Downtown event on Nov. 2. The HKS architecture firm is working with the Houston Astros.


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