Astros Wives gala for charity cancelled this year

May 15, 2013 4:15:20 PM PDT
A battle is brewing between the Houston Astros and a woman's charity. The dispute between the two sides has now turned into a war or words. It all surrounds the annual Astros Wives Gala for the Houston Women's Center. The Astros pulled their support earlier this year, and while they have their reasons, the center says the move has left it in a pinch.

The gala would ordinarily be held at Minute Maid Park. It is cancelled for this year, but there's disagreement about just why that is.

Glitz, glamour and giving back -- the Astros Wives organization has been holding an annual gala for 23 years. The group is a private charity, but it's always been supported by the Astros. The gala has been held on the team's home field with plenty of players attending. But now, the Astros have canceled this year's gala.

Gala organizer Judy Nichols said, "It was like I couldn't believe he did this."

Nichols says over the past 23 years her event has raised four million dollars for the Houston Area Women's Center.

"They had already done their 2013 budget expecting these funds to come in," she explained. "Now they're going to be short $200,000 to $300,000."

But the Astros are moving on, saying in a statement that in some years, less than half of the money raised actually went to the women's center.

Team management said, "It disturbed us that such a large portion of the funds raised specifically for the women's center were allocated to pay for the party and/or fees. That was not a standard the Astros foundation wanted to continue..."

However, the Astros Wives organization showed Eyewitness News paperwork that it claims shows team ownership charged the charity more than $30,000 to use Minute Maid Park last year.

"They're misinforming the public," Nichols claimed. "It's their fees that caused a lot of this problem."

Yet the Astros Wives organization isn't willing to have the gala someplace else.

Nichols said, "We took it off the field one year and the whole drama of this thing was having it on the field and being with the players. That's what excited everybody, so we moved it back."

Now that the gala is cancelled, the Houston Women's Center is searching for ways to make up the funds that gala would have contributed.

Meanwhile, the Astros are moving on. They say they are focusing their charitable efforts now on youth baseball and other programs for at-risk children.

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