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The Astros joined the major leagues as the Colt .45s. They changed their name three years later to honor the city's connection to NASA and align with the team's move into the Astrodome. Since 2000, Houston has played in Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston.
The franchise achieved unprecedented success with McLane as the owner, with six playoff appearances in a nine-year span, culminating in the team's only World Series appearance, in 2005. In Milwaukee, Commissioner Bud Selig saluted McLane, who bought the team in 1992 for $117 million.
"Drayton should have a wonderful legacy of what he did for the Astros, got them a new ballpark and did all these things," Selig said. "He sure left a much better franchise than when he came in."
But since Astros icons Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio retired, the team has transitioned into rebuilding mode, trading stars such as Lance Berkman, Michael Bourn, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence, mostly for young prospects.
Attendance has dwindled as the team has finished with losing records in the past five seasons. Last year's 56-106 mark was the worst in club history.
Crane said the team isn't likely to make any big splashes in free agency. He tried to buy the Rangers last summer and thinks that franchise, with Nolan Ryan as part-owner, should serve as the model for his team to follow.
Texas has won the AL pennant the past two years.
"It's a very good example," Crane said. "When we looked at that team, they had about a $50 million payroll. They had a very stacked minor league system, and they were on the verge of making a move. Once they did that, and they had some success last year, that allowed them to spend more money, and now they've got a $100 million payroll.
"The reason they could do that is they have the revenue to do that now," Crane said. "Our revenue has been going the other way. We've got to stop that, and get the costs in line and slowly build our way back."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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