in Houston, Texas
Houston airport spends $55K on employee baseball field, aim of ‘making work fun’
Friday, Jun 22, 2012, 12:05PM CST
By Steve Miller
baseball bats

It’s the Field of Dreams for a few employees of the Houston Airport System. But for those folks who pay for a plane ticket out of Houston or a parking fee, it’s a $55,200 bill for some airport staff to blow off steam or bond.

Records show that an HAS-funded softball field built in the spring on Will Clayton Parkway took 1,446 hours of work by city staffers, including paying an airport supervisor $30.96 per hour for 32 hours of work on the project.

A maintenance mechanic was paid $21.57 an hour for 104 hours for his work, and an equipment operator was paid $26.13 an hour for 569 hours of work. An inspector spent a full 8-hour day working on the field at $33.62 an hour.

Total payroll for the field, which was completed in May, was $33,504.

A softball field is nothing without a fence of course, where aspiring Curtis Grandersons can plant a long ball. The airport paid $11,891 for fencing in the ball field. And that soft infield dirt, the red kind? $7,080.

An airport spokeswoman said in an email that the field was built to promote “health and wellness initiatives, inter-business group participation, communication development” as well as in the spirit of “making work fun.”

HAS field

“This idea came from employees,” said Roxanne Butler, the airport system’s communications director. “This was a way to get people engaged, and our new leadership, Mr. Diaz, has the idea of a high-performance organization in which people work well together. So this idea is to engage people, so on lunch hour they are playing together and getting together.”

The field was developed by an airport system employee.

A full presentation on the merits of the field was developed last summer. Read it here.

Editor's Note: This post was updated 10:30 a.m. June 23 with a submitted photo of the HAS field.

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or

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Photo of baseball bats by flickr user PMillera4, used via a Creative Commons license. Photo of HAS field submitted by a reader.

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Friday, 06/22/2012 - 02:04PM

Good use of money in my mind. Would much rather have this than xray machines and rubber gloves.

Friday, 06/22/2012 - 03:44PM



OD Collins
Friday, 06/22/2012 - 04:22PM

R U joking???? Why is this article even about the field? Seems like you are wasting money. Why don't u spend time uncovering corruption instead of stopping companies from doing something worthwhile for their employees?


Jim Bigham
Friday, 06/22/2012 - 05:21PM

Isn't the real problem that this organization isn't a "company"? The comments lead a reader to believe that Mr. Miller is criticizing a for-profit organization. Not at all! This is a tax payer approved, user fee fed entity, accountable to the citizens of the City of Houston. All of these workers are COH employees. How would you feel about your local Police Division paying $55k for a softball field?

Priorities. Accountability. Results.

Friday, 06/22/2012 - 05:41PM

What a terrible waste of the public's dollars building an airport baseball field. What about the quality of life of the 200+ employees they layed-off. And, I bet those employees don't believe it is worthwhile. Just more City waste.

Friday, 06/22/2012 - 07:57PM

More power to health and wellness! Reducing stress, pot bellies, blood pressure! Give the Police a field too! Don't Police have a Rec Center??????

Friday, 06/22/2012 - 09:35PM

every employee needs to be healthier - even government employees.

Saturday, 06/23/2012 - 08:12AM

To Kindlelight: Then perhaps you should mortgage your house to help ensure every city department has a baseball field. However, I'm sure if you ask the city employees you will find they had much rather have a pay increase instead of a baseball field that no one uses. This is just more wasteful spending of the public's dollars. Where is CM Helena Brown now? Thanks Texas Watchdog for pointing out wasteful spending in all areas of city and state government.

Saturday, 06/23/2012 - 09:40PM

Sorry Sportsangle: u miss the point and it is pointless to continue. Hooray to ALL EMPLOYERS who realize healthier employees reduce absenteeism and ensure EMPLOYMENT continues when a 2% - 3% pay raise won't pay for higher insurance due to illnesses such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks, etc.

Mr. Moderate
Sunday, 06/24/2012 - 11:56PM

Since the Houston airport System is an enterprise, and doesn't consume any tax dollars, I'm not particularly bothered. My company uses shareholder money for this sort of thing, and it results in employees that are more motivated, happier, and healthier. If the field is available to other organizations, all the better.

Th ePolice generally play on city park facilities, which are few and far between at the airport, an island of City property surrounded by th eCounty.

Monday, 06/25/2012 - 08:40AM

They already have a very expensive state of the art airconditioned fitness center for employees as well as walking trails, which would certainly suffice. Bet you didn't know that. Look at the picture of the field. Does it look like it has been used????? And, tell me how they can go play ball on their lunch break in triple digit temperatures. I see bleachers in the pictures. Perhaps you should go sit there until someone shows up to play ball. And, then see if that's the way you would like to see city government spend dollars. Again, in my humble opinion a complete waste of dollars. When will it stop!!!!!

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