Sweet suite playoff seats free to elected officials: Who's on the list?

"A note from Ted Oberg: As we continued to investigate this piece, it came to my attention that Pooja Lodhia, one of my ABC13 colleagues, attended an Astros playoff game as the guest of Houston Councilman Jack Christie. She did not pay for the ticket. The Harris County Houston Sports Authority values the playoff ticket at $163. Pooja tells me at the time she did not know it was a publicly funded ticket. In the interest of transparency, it is a detail we should include. As you can see from the lists of ticket recipients posted below, guest names are not recorded per policy of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority. - Ted"

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you're willing to stand up and watch Game 6 of the World Series, you can get in the door for $600. StubHub says it's at least $650 if you want to sit down in the far reaches of the upper deck, but you would be in the door for a potential championship game.

Astros' World Series tickets may be the most sought-after seats in town with prices to match, but not everyone is paying.

Dozens of free tickets went to elected and appointed officials, according to documents obtained by 13 Investigates.

The tickets belong to the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, a public agency run by Harris County and City of Houston to develop and operate sports stadiums in the area. The authority operates Minute Maid Park, where the Astros play, along with several other Houston-area arenas. As part of the deal, the HCHSA gets a suite in the stadium and controls the roughly 30 tickets for each game.

According to the lists, half of the Houston city council got tickets to the postseason (AL Division Series or Championship Series) or World Series. Three of them got tickets to three games each. Councilman Robert Gallegos' office confirmed his attendance. Councilman Jack Christie told us he uses the games as a chance to market sports for Houston. Councilman Dave Martin told us he considers the games a working event. Martin also serves on the Sports Authority Foundation's Board of Directors.

Janis Burke, the Sports Authority CEO, told 13 Investigates she encourages the elected officials to speak with invited guests and sponsors.

Martin told 13 Investigates he reimburses the authority for his tickets. The Sports Authority CEO told 13 Investigates, "None of the attendees had to pay for their tickets."

Leadership at the Sports Authority said no payments had been received to date, but would continue to check.

Mayor Sylvester Turner got a ticket to the suite for Game 2 of the World Series.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo got a free ticket to one of the playoff games against the Tampa Bay Rays.

County Commissioner Adrian Garcia was given a ticket for Game 1 of the World Series.

Seven state representatives got free tickets and so did two state senators, as did the president of the University of Houston.

The documents show who received the free tickets. They were non-transferable. In one case, the documents show City Council member Ellen Cohen returned hers. It was given to another guest instead. No other changes are noted on the lists.

The World Series tickets are valued at $500 each. Some of the elected officials are allowed to bring a guest. It's not immediately clear who, as records on the guests who attended are not kept.

Below is the list provided by the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority of people confirmed to have received tickets. None were asked to pay. Some were allowed to bring guests; those names are not always noted on lists. The list does not confirm attendance, but the tickets are non-transferable, and at least, in one case, noted when they were returned to the authority. That change is reflected in the list.

ALDS - Friday, 10/4/19

Meredith Pardue, Sports Authority Staff

Athena Kosich, Sports Authority Staff

Chris Massey, Sports Authority Staff

Janis Burke, Sports Authority Staff

Melanie Hauser, Contract writer for Sports Authority

Kat Casas, Contractor for Sports Authority

Laura Murillo, Sports Authority Board

Joseph Callier, Sports Authority Board

Stephen Fraga, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Christian Brown, PNC Bank

Justin du Plessis, GVP

Ivan Villareal, Pepsi

Jorge Miranda, Yellow Rose

David Graham, Karbach

Alex Brennan-Martin, Brennan's of Houston

Matt Rogers, Power Center Pharmacy

Jeremy Little, CPK Group/McDonalds

Mike Schneider, Jr, Crime Stoppers

John Walker, Houston Dynamo

Bobby Singh, Houston First Board

Stoney Burke, American Softball Association

Lance Thompson, Greater Houston US Bowling Congress

Jack Christie, Houston City Council

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These are the people who got World Series for free. In this video, you can hear some choice words from Astros fans who paid big money to be there to those who got in for free.



ALDS - Saturday, 10/5/19

Monica Nieves, Sports Authority Staff

Chris Massey, Sports Authority Staff

Janis Burke, Sports Authority Staff

Kenny Friedman, Sports Authority Board

Joseph Callier, Sports Authority Board

Bruce Oakley, Sports Authority Board

Martye Kenrick, Sports Authority Board

Zina Garrison, Sports Authority Board

Tom Sprague, Sports Authority Board

Dave Martin, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Sofia Androgue, Houston First Corporation

Chris Hopkins, Brener International

Desrye Morgan, Wells Fargo

Ruy Estrada, GVP

Wade Morehead, Houston Marathon Committee

Mark Jacobs, Regions Bank

Curtis Flowers, Loop Capital Markets

Sam McGuffie, Houston Olympian

Leroy & Michelle Burrell, Houston Olympians

Maria Ines Flores, Houston Olympian

Carl Lewis, Houston Olympian

Jack Christie, Houston City Council

Mike Knox, Houston City Council

Robert Gallegos, Houston City Council

Lina Hidalgo - Harris County Judge

ALCS - Saturday, 10/12/19

Holly Kesterson, Sports Authority Staff

Patti Smith, Sports Authority Staff

Janis Burke, Sports Authority Staff

Cindy Clifford, Sports Authority Board

Kenny Friedman, Sports Authority Board

Tom Sprague, Sports Authority Board

Rachel Gottschalk, Memorial Hermann

Ryan Walsh, Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation

Leah Mastaglio, SMG

Tom Segesta, Four Seasons Hotel

Matthew Finnan, Hilton Ammericas

Avani Sharma, Houston Rockets

Alexandra Comerota, Houston Texans

Alex Orwin, House of Blues

Paul Clemons & Damon Henson, Rarity IT Group

Robin Lalone, Kendra Scott

Paul Tarney, Rockstar Energy Drink

John Coppins, US Golf Association

Martha Castex-Tatum, Battle of the Bands Local Organizing Committee

Dolores Lozano, WISE Events Committee

Justin Vickrey, Allegiance Bank

Jesi Cox, Speedsportz Racing Park

Suzan Dieson, Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce

Chandra Young-Pierce, The Document Group

Lauren Wilson, IMG Learfield

Jonathan Lopez, Dukessa Catering

Kerri Barber, Rice University

Terry Morales, Amegy Bank

Alma Allen, State Representative

ALCS - Sunday, 10/13/19

Janis Burke, Sports Authority Staff

Chris Massey, Sports Authority Staff

Holly Kesterson, Sports Authority Staff

Patti Smith, Sports Authority Staff

Kenny Friedman, Sports Authority Board

Laura Murillo, Sports Authority Board

Robert Woods, Sports Authority Board

Juan Munoz, Sports Authority Board

Zina Garrison, Sports Authority Board

Joseph Callier, Sports Authority Board

June Deadrick, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Jess Fields, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Stephen Fraga, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Dave Martin, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Sawan Patel, Perspective Unity Hotels Group

Charles Foster, Foster Global

Kanchan & Jay Kabad, Jakay Advisors - potential ITTF sponsor

Swapan Dhairyawan, Indo-American Chamber of Commerce

Troy Kite, Humble ISD

Joe Sims, Rarity IT Consultants

Brenda Bazan, Houston First Corporation

Mark Jacobs, Regions Bank

Ray Zepeda, Capital Plastics

Susan Christian, City of Houston

Edgar Colon, Harris County Sports & Convention Corporatoin

Megan Lesser, PSP

Jorge Miranda, Zamora Company

Mike Laster, Houston City Council

ALCS - Saturday, 10/19/19

Holly Kesterson, Sports Authority Staff

Patti Smith, Sports Authority Staff

Chris Massey, Sports Authority Staff

Anai Rodriguez, Sports Authority Staff

Melanie Hauser, Contract Writer for Sports Authority

Katrina Casas, Contractor for Sports Authority

Gray Moore, Contract Videographer for Sports Authority

June Deadrick, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Laura Murillo, Sports Authority Board

Tom Sprague, Sports Authority Board

Robert Woods, Sports Authority Board

Kenny Friedman, Sports Authority Board

Juan Munoz, Sports Authority Board

Joseph Callier, Sports Authority Board

Larry Catuzzi, Sports Authority Board

Chad Burke, Sports Authority Board

Marilyn DeSimone, Downtown Aquarium

Robin Burke, Champions Golf Club

Fred Cuellar, Diamond Cutters International

Juan Rodriguez, BBVA

Myndi Luevano, Houston Saber Cats

Jeff Kelly, Houston Airport System

Peggy Turner, TIRR Memorial Hermann

Opie Otterstadt, Sports Awards Sponsor

Stephen Kennedy, Amegy Bank (with Jenn Mamajek)

David Smith, Greater Houston Football Coaches Assn

Robert Gallegos, Houston City Council

Jerry Davis, Houston City Council

World Series - Tuesday, 10/22/19

Janis Burke, Sports Authority Staff

Chris Massey, Sports Authority Staff

Patti Smith, Sports Authority Staff

Holly Kesterson, Sports Authority Staff

Cindy Clifford, Sports Authority Board

Robert Woods, Sports Authority Board

Laura Murillo, Sports Authority Board

Dave Martin, Sports Authority Foundation Board

Opie Otterstadt, Sports Awards Sponsor

Edgar Colon, Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation

Bobby Singh, Houston First Corporation

Leisa Holland Nelson, Astoundz

Brad Freels, Midway

Juliet Breeze, Next Level Urgent Care

John Walker, Dynamo

Kevin Hattery, Houston Boys & Girls Club

Cindy Coward, US Flag Football

David Tagliarino, U of H

Neera Patidar, Ruggles Black

Brian Cooper, XFL

Dr. Renu Khator, U of H

Scott Mizerik, Sports Authority BMX Volunteer

Juan Sanchez, Houston Community College

Ron Reynolds, State Representative

Mary Ann Perez, State Representative

Adrian Garcia, Harris County Commissioner

Briscoe Cain, State Representative

Jack Christie, Houston City Council

Jack Christie, Houston City Council

Joan Huffman, State Senator

Anthony Hill

World Series - Wednesday, 10/23/19

Janis Burke, Sports Authority Staff

Chris Massey, Sports Authority Staff

Bruce Oakley, Sports Authority Board

Tom Sprague, Sports Authority Board

Joseph Callier, Sports Authority Board

Chad Burke, Sports Authority Board

Kenny Friedman, Sports Authority Board

Zina Garrison, Sports Authority Board

Larry Catuzzi, Sports Authority Board

Bill Scott, Sports Authority Volunteer

Wayne Smith, Former Sports Authority Board Member

Sylvester Turner, Houston Mayor

Mark Miller, SMG/NRG Park

Marshall Happer, XFL

Greg Travis, Houston City Council

Robert Gallegos, Houston City Council

Mike Knox, Houston City Council

Mike Laster, Houston City Council

Martha Castex Tatum, Houston City Council

Christina Morales, State Representative

Alma Allen, State Representative

Steve Toth, State Representative

Gina Calanni, State Representative

Jarvis Johnson, State Representative

Shawn Thierry, State Representative

Harold Dutton, State Representative

Larry Taylor, State Senator

Ariel Williams

Amanda Benbow, Insperity

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These are the people who got World Series for free. In this video, you can hear some choice words from Astros fans who paid big money to be there to those who got in for free.

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