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'Downtown Diamond' | How Enron Field came about and eventually became Minute Maid Park

The Astros played their first game at Minute Maid Park, then Enron Field, on March 30, 2000.

HOUSTON — The story of Houston's downtown baseball stadium begins with an ending when the Oilers reached a deal in 1995 to go to Tennessee.

The Astrodome was falling apart and Astros ownership was eyeing a new home along the downtown skyline.

But the new park wasn't without opposition. KHOU 11 archives show there was a controversial stadium financing bill involving various taxes.

But in the end, the "dream" stadium would become a reality in 1996 and it would break ground in 1997.

Nearly 40 years after the Astrodome debuted, the new state-of-the-art baseball stadium was referred to as the "Downtown Diamond," but was officially named Enron Field. The first game played at the new stadium was on March 30, 2000.

The natural grass, a vintage train and a 242-foot-high retractable roof were dazzling and outdoor baseball was back in Houston for the first time in 35 years.

But for all the bells and whistles, it was the historic Union Station location, the old-fashioned feel of a locomotive and touches of old-school baseball nostalgia that allowed fans to really experience America's favorite pastime.

There was plenty of personality too - like the quirky Tal's hill center field.

The park itself was fitting for the unique team that took the field that year.

But the title of this chapter would be short-lived.

After Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, the stadium became Minute Maid Park just a few years after it opened.

The name change proved to be a turning point for the on-field product too. The Astros made their first World Series appearance in 2005.

And "The Juice Box" was flowing, hosting everything from other sporting events to concert headliners like Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift.

In the last half-decade, the 'Stros have compiled one of baseball's most successful stretches, most recently winning the 2022 World Series Championship.

And now, the stadium that opened in more ways than one and was years ahead of its time, is celebrating its 23rd anniversary.

A "Downtown Diamond" with the rings to prove it.

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