The Houston Astros are looking at removing both Tal's Hill in center field and the train running above it as part of branding changes for the 2013 season, when the team enters the American League.
The raised center-field hill at Minute Maid Park, never popular with players, was named for former Astros executive Tal Smith in an homage to older ballparks like Cincinnati's Crosley Field, which featured a raised area along the center-field fence. (Before the emergence of warning tracks, raised areas along the fence were found in many ballparks; one still exists at a former minor-league field in Thomasville, N.C., and Fenway Park was famous for Duffy's Cliff in front of the Green Monster. Isotopes Park, home of the PCL's Albuquerque Isotopes, was built with such a center-field raised area as well.) Removing it would surely please some player-development folks.
Removing the train, which chugs along after an Astros home run, would be more drastic, but the team reportedly is looking at changes to the sponsorship setup above the Crawford Boxes.
With the team already submitting new uniform designs to Major League Baseball with a new color scheme, changes to the ballpark are inevitable anyway, and there are many who would rather see the train go away anyway.
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