The new changes at Minute Maid Park won’t only be in center field, but it will also include the protective netting around the field. The Astros announced on Wednesday that the team plans to install additional netting at Minute Maid Park and Whataburger Field — home of the Astros’ owned Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks.
The netting will now extend from dugout to dugout, starting at 12 feet in height and tapering to 32 feet tall behind home plate. The team's press release notes a section will be raised during batting practice: “(the net) will be raised slightly during Astros batting practice so fans can interact with players over the top of the dugout and be lowered back in place by first pitch during Astros 2017 season home games.”
Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan said of the move:
“Going to the ballpark and watching a game of baseball is a different experience now than it was even 10 years ago with the growing popularity of social media and real-time updates,” said Ryan. “We want our fans to be able to enjoy a ballgame however they like, whether that’s from behind a more protective layer of netting or right in the middle of the action. We take pride in keeping our ballpark as up-to-date and family-friendly as possible, and will always make the fan experience a top priority."
The new netting will be in place for the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park, March 3-5 and in place at Whataburger Field by Feb. 9.