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Astros want to raise the roof at Minute Maid: They just have to figure out when and how

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Last year, only 14 of the Astros' 81 regular-season home games were played with the roof of Minute Maid open, although that could soon change. Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

With this week's bone-chilling cold front, the idea of keeping the roof of Minute Maid Park open for any length of time is hard to imagine. But come summertime, it's a big deal for Astros fans.

Although it was a tradition for at least part of each game to be played in the open air in the ballpark's early days, the Astros decided in 2005 to keep the roof closed during most games. After surveying fans who say they want the roof to be open more, Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan is looking at ways to implement a new plan, according to a report on MLB.com.

 After surveying fans, Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan recently found out that they want the roof to be open more and he's taking steps to make that happen. 

"At this point, we're talking about it," Ryan told the baseball website. "We haven't fully gotten to the bottom of why it [stopped], and we're not fully prepared to start to roll out what our recommendation will be. But we are thinking about it, and we're getting input."

Most games at the ballpark are played with the roof closed to allow for fans to watch in air-conditioned comfort in Houston's sticky summer climate. Last season, the roof remained open during only 14 of the team's 81 regular-season home games, mostly in the spring.

The decision to open a roof lies solely with the home team, according to Major League Baseball rules. If a game begins with the roof open, it will only be closed if the weather turns bad. The roof can be re-opened during a game if weather conditions are at a level where fans are comfortable, so long as both teams agree, which leaves a lot of wiggle room but also a lot of room for debate.

"In a nutshell, what I would personally like to see is us to be able to open the roof late in the game when the weather is appealing or was comfortable enough that fans would enjoy it," Ryan said in the MLB.com story. "The one thing we know from our research — and we surveyed fans extensively this year — is people want to see the roof open more. They like the feel of outdoor baseball. So what is that [optimum] temperature? What is the [right] wind condition? What are the chances of rain? We're still digging into all that — and once we get it, then we'll put it out there."

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