Sports venue seeks restraining order against Houston after being shut down

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A recreational sports venue is seeking a restraining order against the city of Houston after it claims members of the Houston Police Department and the Houston Fire Department wrongfully shut them down.

Sportsplex of Houston, a 30-acre sports venue, tried to reopen on Friday, May 1 under Gov. Greg Abbott's GA-18 executive order, which allowed some businesses to open at a 25 percent capacity.

Instead, the owners said they were met with dozens of Houston police officers and two members of the Houston Fire Department asking them to shut down.

Abbott's order for the first phase of reopening included restaurants, retail stores, libraries and museums, but "interactive amusement venues" were prohibited from opening during phase one.

Sportplex' attorney Casey Wallace does not believe the business fits into the "interactive amusement venue" category, and said the owners reopened following CDC's social distancing recommendations.

"We look at the black ink on the white paper and we see that we may enjoy outdoor activities again, so long as the proper social distancing and other protocols are being followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19," the owner said. "(Sportsplex of Houston) instituted rules like no touching or tagging. We also had a rule that the catcher has to be six feet behind the batter, the umpire had to be six feet away from the catcher, everyone was required to wear gloves and no more than four people could be in the dug-out at a time."

The city of Houston communications director Mary Benton said Mayor Turner plans to ask Attorney General Ken Paxton whether or not he intends to uphold the governor's executive order.

"Otherwise, Mayor Turner does not want the city to expend local resources unnecessarily on enforcing the state's orders," Benton said.

A hearing for the restraining order request is scheduled for Friday, May 8.

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