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Harris County - Houston Sports Authority History

On September 14, 1996, Harris County, the City of Houston, the Houston Astros Baseball Club and Sports Facilities, L.P. ("SFLP") executed a Letter of Intent regarding the development of a proposed new baseball stadium for the Houston Astros to be located in downtown Houston.  The Letter of Intent, among other things, stated that the downtown stadium would be developed through a "county-wide sports authority or other similar non-profit corporation" and outlined plans for financing the design, construction and operation of the Ballpark.

The financing plan described in the Letter of Intent included a joint commitment from the County, the City, the Houston Astros and SFLP to support legislation in the 1997 session of the Texas Legislature that would authorize the creation of the county-wide sports authority, provide public revenue sources to finance the ballpark, and capitalize the sports authority.  The terms of the Letter of Intent were subject to a number of conditions, including (a) securing the approval of voters of the County in a referendum regarding the establishment and operation of the proposed Ballpark, and (b) passage of the legislation described above.

On November 5, 1996, the first condition was satisfied when the voters of Harris County authorized the establishment and operation of "new or renovated stadiums, arenas or other facilities for professional baseball and football teams."  The second condition was satisfied on May 20, 1997, when the Texas Legislature enacted H.B. 92, which, among other things, authorizes (a) counties with a population in excess of 2.2 million and cities with a population in excess of 1.2 million to adopt concurrent orders to create a "sports and community venue district" under Chapter 335 of the Texas Local Government Code, and (b) the imposition by any such district of certain taxes, including a hotel occupancy tax and short-term motor vehicle rental tax to finance "approved venue projects" such as the proposed ballpark.

On July 29 and 30, 1997, Harris County Commissioners Court and Houston's City Council adopted Concurrent Orders creating, effective September 1, 1997, the sports and community venue district known as the Harris County - Houston Sports Authority.  Shortly thereafter, pursuant to the Concurrent Orders, the County Judge and the Mayor jointly appointed the Chairman of the Sports Authority and twelve other Directors as the initial governing body.