By the Authority Vested in...

They said it, we didn't. In the short life as the godparents of an evolving Enron Field, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority directors met, made minutes and moved on. The official record, as seen on the Authority's Web site, is fully sanitized of the backroom action. But some of the snippets chart a strange history of what happens when 13 political appointees try to put a stadium together:

On-the-job training:

Director Carol Garner reported that Authority directors assigned to the Fan Outreach Committee made a business trip to the new stadium in Atlanta. Their mission: "ŠTo experience baseball Š from a fan's perspective." (October '97)

What do you expect for a measly $249 million?

Chairman Jack Rains looks for the representatives of contractor Brown & Root to give a stadium construction status report. They're all playing hooky. So the Authority's consultant has to ad lib that "much work is going on at the ballpark site." (February '98)

What, me worry?

"Director [Howard] Middleton continued to express some concern about the possibility of losing the name 'Union Station.' " Of course, it was unfounded -- until the Astros the got their hands on Enron's $100 million. (June '98)

Who am I working for?

Directors are asked to approve a code of conduct simply calling for them to disclose if they work for a stadium vendor or do business with one. Director Michael Stevens insists it be changed to read that they must disclose it only if they "knowingly" work for them or do business with them. (August '98)

May the Force be with you:

Chairman Rains, after a meeting with an East End group, "reported that it was a general consensus that the homeless are with usŠHe further stated that the Sports Authority had taken no side, but offered to be a positive force within the neighborhood." (October '98)

Cost cutting:

The minutes state the project is running under budget, but not that far under budget. "Mr. [Steve] Smith reported that the $229.5 budget was being metŠ." (October '98)

To die for:

While the Authority went about its usual business of doling out big bucks to contractors and consultants, the family of Benjamin Limon got only a plaque, and a moment of silence, out of the directors. He was a construction worker killed in a fall on the project. (January '99)

Bricking around:

"Director Garner updated the Board on the Donor Paver Program and reported that she had visited Gift Bricks' facility while in MilwaukeeŠ." The findings? She was "encouraged by the visit." (May '99)

Not as late as they are:

Wayne Smith, a key official on the design firm for the project, reports that construction is falling behind. So what's the response? Get out of town. To Detroit, to watch the work on the new Tiger stadium. "Mr. Santee Š reported that Enron Field was further along in the construction progress than Detroit's ballpark." (October '99)


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