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Enron No More

When the Houston Astros struck a "naming rights" deal with the largest company based in the city back in 1999, who could've imagined that the name "Enron" would one day come to carry the most negative connotation any corporation ever had?

Well, it happened, and the Astros were so anxious to sanitize their ballpark of Enron's name that they actually paid off the ailing corporation (by then in bankruptcy court) to end the naming-rights agreement prior to the 2002 season.

The Astros then got busy removing the Enron name and logo from the outside and inside the stadium, as well as on napkins, hallway signs, you name it.  In fact, the team offered $100 to any fan who could find the complete name "Enron" anywhere in the ballpark!

And on June 5th of that year, the team announced that Minute Maid is the new corporate sponsor for the ballpark, thereby replacing electricity with juice!

BASEBALLPARKS.COM visited the park formerly known as Enron Field in May of 2002 (and repeatedly thereafter) to see how well the team did at removing the facility's old identity.

In 2000 and 2001, the Enron name and logo were prominent on the scoreboard. In 2002, the big cockeyed "E" and stadium name had been completely removed.

Travelers along one of Houston's busiest thoroughfares, US Route 59, were used to seeing a huge "ENRON FIELD" sign on the exterior of the ballpark as they passed by.  As the left-hand shot below shows, by May of 2002, that side of the facility no longer provided a clue as to the stadium's name. Later that year, a colorful Minute Maid Park sign was erected.

For awhile in 2002, the lack of a name on the side of the facility made you wonder if it was a generic stadium! All Star Game visitors in 2004, though, will see prominent signs with the park's new name.

And although they tried to remove the name "Enron Field" everywhere they could, there were still some places where you could see where the letters used to be, such as above the ticket windows next to the entrance behind home plate.  A few coats of paint eventually fixed that problem.

Yep, a few coats of paint (or some sand blasting) were needed here.

While the Astros were negotiating with various companies for a new "naming rights" deal, the facility had a little bit of an identity crisis.  Since there was no name at all on the building for a while, there was some confusion about whether the correct (temporary) name was Astros Park or Astros Field.  My six year old said at the time, "Since there's a dome on it, why don't they call it the Astrodome?"  I think that name has already been used!

Regardless of the name, there are some gorgeous views from within the Astros' home.  Pass the OJ!