Dismal Astros season affecting nearby businesses around Minute Maid Park

September 26, 2012 3:42:34 PM PDT
This is one of the most disappointing seasons in the Astros' history. Most seats are empty, which translates into a big financial loss for some businesses who depend on the crowds.

Those empty seats at Minute Maid Park have translated into empty seats at nearby bars and restaurants, where owners say as the Astros lost games, they lost money.

Five-year-old Michaela Diaz is rooting for her Astros.

"Are you excited about the game?" we asked her.

"Yeah!" she said.

Her Astros jersey, ball and a bat are a welcome sight to area business owners who have seen customers from the ballpark practically disappear. At Craig Biggio's final game, nearly 44,000 people packed Minute Maid Park. Last week, only around 12,000. Mark Diaz is one of those faithful fans.

"Some people don't like to come. I like to come. I root for them, good and bad," Astros fan Mark Diaz said.

The Astros' disastrous record has left its mark on businesses that once thrived when the team succeeded. A padlock is on the door of The Bus, as the bar located right across the street from the park is now closed. So is the Strip House, which was once a popular post-game steakhouse.

Houston institutions like Irma's Southwest Grill have also felt the pinch.

"Our numbers are down about 50 percent. Fifty, so that's a pretty big number for us. We rely on the Astros crowd for our summer business," the restaurant's owner Louis Galvan said.

Galvan says the focus now is on next season.

"We'll have new teams coming in like the A's and the Devil Rays, so we're really hoping that a new league and the excitement of a new season will help our business next year," Galvan said.

And so are area hotels. The Hilton Americas expects to get a big boost in business from fans of the American League West.

"We think that we will get more guests from out of town. They have a big fan base, both the Yankees and the Red Sox, so we look forward to welcoming them to Houston," Hilton Americas manager Jaques D'Rovencourt said.

Business owners also believe the switch to the new league will generate a lot of new interest among locals. That, they say, will help bring more people back to the park and into their businesses.


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