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Houston Sports Hall of Fame to be built downtown

Houston Business Journal | 02.09.2018

Midway and the Harris County Houston Sports Authority are planning to build a Houston Sports Hall of Fame.

The announcement was made at the inaugural Houston Sports Awards, which honored athletes, executives, coaches and sports events in the Houston area in 2017. The more than three-hour event was held Feb. 8 at the Hilton Americas Houston and organized by the Harris County Houston Sports Authority. 

The hall of fame is expected to be located downtown near the House of Blues at GreenStreet, which is a mixed-use property Midway owns, in addition to a walk of fame for inductees.  

 “As we were dreaming and envisioning what tonight would look like, it just started to fall into place that we should have a hall of fame,” said Janis Burke, CEO of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority.

Janis Burke is CEO of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority.  More details are expected to be revealed this summer about the hall of fame, Burke said. She said she hopes one day the hall of fame will be “a lot” of square feet, but an exact size hasn’t been decided. An architect hasn’t been picked for the project.  

Meanwhile, NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) has plans to vacate about 250,000 square feet in GreenStreet at 1201 Fannin downtown. NRG's space in the building is on the sublease market.

The first three inductees for the Houston Sports Hall of Fame have been confirmed: Earl Campbell, former Houston Oilers running back; Hakeem Olajuwon, former Houston Rockets basketball player; and Nolan Ryan, former pitcher with the Houston Astros.

“I was totally surprised,” said Ryan of the hall of fame, “but I think it’s a great thing they’re doing.”

All three athletes were honored at the Houston Sports Awards event, billed as the “who’s who of Houston sports. Tickets started at around $600 and tables ranged between $5,000 and $34,000.

Other awards were handed out to athletes, coaches, executives and events in the Houston area for their efforts last year. Unsurprisingly, the Houston Astros took home a lot of hardware. Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow won the “Executive of the Year” award while the 2017 World Series won “Event of the Year.” Second baseman Jose Altuve won the “Athlete of the Year” award. 

Jeff Luhnow, general manager of the Houston Astros, won executive of the year at the inaugural Houston Sports Awards.

The lifetime achievement award went to former Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander, who sold the team in October for $2.2 billion to Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta. 

“I find the people in Houston to be the nicest, the warmest, the dearest people I’ve met in my whole life,” Alexander said.

In addition, the Houston Sports Foundation, which is operated within the Harris County Houston Sports Authority, awarded about $50,000 to Houston homeless shelter Star of Hope. 

Burke didn’t say how much money the event could raise in the future or how it impacts the finances of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority. The event was meant to simply break even this year, she said.

Burke wanted to stage an event like this since around 2006, and said the awards event “was one of the happiest days” in her life. 

It was clear by the end of the event most patrons shared her enthusiasm.

“As far as I’m concerned, I don’t think it could have been done any better,” Earl Campbell said.