The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority was originally created in 1997 to oversee the plans for financing, designing, constructing and operating a proposed new baseball stadium for the Houston Astros.

The HCHSA provides oversight to not only the baseball venue, now known as Minute Maid Park, but several of Houston's professional sports facilities, including Shell Energy Stadium, NRG Stadium and the Toyota Center. Aside from operations, the sports authority also promotes the region for sports-related events.

Janis Burke joined the sports authority as CEO in 2006, when she became the third CEO and first woman to hold the position. She was recently inducted into the 2024 Sports Events and Tourism Association's Hall of Fame in March.

Community Impact sat down with Burke on April 2 to discuss the sports authority's role in the local economy, upcoming international events and sports development in the region.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What impact has the sports authority had on the local economy through its sports-related activities and events?

We started a program called, "Buy Houston. By Houston," which allows vendors to go to our website, sign up for whatever product they offer and tell us if they're a minority-owned business or a women-owned business. We track all of that so we can give a report at the end of major events. For example, the college football playoffs, which happened in January of this year, a little over $3 million worth of business went out to the local community.

Can we expect the city of Houston to host another Super Bowl in the near future?

Houston will definitely host again. It's just a matter of when. You need your NFL team to really be behind it and to be partners because that's a little bit of an inside game with the NFL owners who all vote and choose. So yes, we've been talking with the Texans about that and when is the right time. I think everybody would love to see another Super Bowl in Houston.

Is there any update from Major League Baseball on the city's bid for the World Baseball Classic in 2026?

We haven’t, but I feel good about it, because I always feel good about every bid. I think we will probably hear back before the end of [April]. That’s what we’ve been told. I heard in Miami, the city hit over 425,000 attendees to the World Baseball Classic. Can you imagine that in the spring, and then the World Cup in the summer? It’ll be our international year for sure.

Has the sports authority heard anything on Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta's efforts to bring the National Hockey League to Houston?

We think that everybody has a great interest in bringing an NHL team to Houston. Those discussions are happening within the NHL commission. I think we'd be a great city to host an ice hockey team. We had the Houston Aeros for many years. Ice hockey is a fast-moving sport, and we have so many diverse interests in sports around here. Cricket is another one with a huge following. Any type of sport does well in Houston—No. 1, because we have a big population, but also we are just a huge sports town. We love our sports.

What impact can we expect to see for local communities from these large world events coming to the area, such as the FIFA 2026 World Cup?

We want to help grow the game, work on sustainability and work on human rights. We want to use the platform of the World Cup to do something positive. We want to grow the game for kids that can't really play, that don't live in the suburbs and can't drive to the suburbs. We want to create an urban league for those kids.

We also want to do our fan festival a little different. We want to move into [East Downtown], which—with the Hwy. 59 project going underground and a park connecting downtown to EaDo—we think that's the next kind of up-and-coming place, and we want to use the event to leave a legacy there.

Are there any other upcoming events, tournaments or projects that the authority is particularly excited about?

World Cup Rugby is coming, both men and women's. It's been awarded to the United States, so we hope to be in the mix for that. Cricket is another sport that we have our eye on because we have a big population here that would to like see professional cricket. In 2028, we will have the last Olympic-qualifying event for BMX. The world's largest bike park is out in Houston, so that's where the 2028 UCI BMX World Championships will be held.