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IN MIDST OF OILERS STRUGGLE, HOUSTON EXAMINES SPORTS' PLACE
Published August 28, 1995
A group of downtown Houston consultants has designed a plan to keep the Oilers in Houston and increase profitability for owner Bud Adams. The "Fourth Down Plan" calls for: guarantees for Adams -- either through public or private funds -- that the Dome's 20,000 end-zone seats are sold for every game; Adams pays Astrodome USA a fixed-rent of $250,000/season and keeps 75% of parking and concessions; Adams gets an agreement from the city for a new stadium within five years -- with a $5M payment from the city if ground is not broken within that time. In exchange, Adams would have to pledge that any increase in profits "must be spent on his players until the Oilers reach a Super Bowl" (John McClain, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/27). TEAM-BY-TEAM: In the midst of the Oilers' threats to move from the Astrodome, several articles in this weekend's HOUSTON CHRONICLE examined the venue situations facing the city's franchises. ASTROS -- Owner Drayton McLane, who holds the lease on the Dome, is not pushing for a new stadium. However, McLane says the 30-year-old facility "just needs to be enhanced, to be taken to the year 2000." McLane is looking for $80M-$100M from local officials for improvements: "We can't have the Rocky Mountains in the background or the downtown skyline view. But we have the allure of being the original domed stadium." ROCKETS -- They feel the 20-year-old Summit is outdated by NBA standards. However, because of the fallout from the Oilers negotiations which "subsequently turned off so many sports fans in Houston," owner Les Alexander would not comment on any future plans. It is not believed the Rockets would threaten to leave to get city concessions. PRO HOCKEY -- The IHL Aeros averaged 11,600 last season at the Summit and hold an exclusive lease for the facility until 2003. In addition, Hohlfeld notes that "the NHL's expansion plans currently do not rank Houston at or near the top of the list" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/27). NATIONAL EXPOSURE: "NBC Nightly News" took a look at the plight of the Oilers and the rash of NFL franchises relocating. Harris County official Terry O'Rourke: "We paid $67 million [in '88] to help Bud Adams and the Oilers play football here and we're going to make sure they play football here" ("NBC Nightly News," 8/27).