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Astros no more? Jim Crane considers changing name of team as it moves to American League

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Jim Crane with his wife Franci Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com
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The Houston Astros might not be the Houston Astros when the club moves into the American League in the 2013 season.

Completely changing the name of Houston's Major League Baseball team is one of the steps Jim Crane's new ownership group is examining. Crane dropped that bombshell after a Monday press conference touting new Astros fan initiatives — including reducing the price of around 5,000 seats in Minute Maid Park and allowing fans to bring food and water to the games.

"That's under consideration," Crane said of changing the team's name. "We aren't sure we're going to do that."

 "Change is change," Crane said of potentially dropping the Astros name. "If we do it, we're going to get it right." 

Talking to a smaller group of reporters after the main press conference, Crane said the move into the American League would be the time to do a name change if it's done.

"Change is change," he said. "If we do it, we're going to get it right."

Crane noted that a name change would not be without precedent.

"If you look back, we used to be the Colt .45s," he said. "Everybody liked that one. You can imagine how upset people were when they changed it."

Crane says older fans tend to resist change — a category he put himself in — but that younger fans usually embrace a switch.

If Crane's group is going to make a switch, they have to submit the designs for new uniforms for 2013 before the start of this season in April under Major League Baseball's complex rules and regulations. But nothing could be officially announced on any changes until after this season.

The revelation that ditching the Astros name is being examined came on an afternoon when Crane put some new more fan-friendly ballpark policies in place. The Astros will now allow fans to bring sealed plastic water bottles (one litter or less, one bottle per person) and food in small plastic bags into Minute Maid, which as new team president George Postolos noted, puts "the team in line with the rest of Major League Baseball." 

In a series of 7:30 a.m. breakfasts with fans, Crane says he received a ton of feedback, but that being able to bring food and water into the ballpark was one that kept coming back up.

The team's $5 beer special also will be expanded to include every permanent concession stand, season ticket holders (both full and 27-game partial plan holders) will receive a five percent discount (in the form of an Astros gift card) and the lowest priced seats (outfield deck) in Minute Maid are being reduced from $7 to $5 for the 2012 season. A kids outfield deck ticket will only run $1.

"That means you can bring a family of four to the ballpark for $12," Postolos said. "As one of our marketing people put it, that's less than the price of a single movie ticket in many places."

Of course, the possible name change is the change that resonates loudest.

For much more on the potential name change and other switches, stay tuned to CultureMap. 

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