SBD/23/Franchises

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM ... ACTUALLY, A FEW PROBLEMS

     "How could it happen?  How can the fourth-largest city in
the nation be on the verge of losing its pro football team and
major-league baseball team in the same year," asks Terry Blount
of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  As for the Astros, Blount concludes it
is not Houston fans that have changed, but the economics of
baseball (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/22).
Eddie Webster, President of the Greater Houston Convention &
Visitors Bureau, said the impact of losing the Oilers and Astros
would be "devastating."  Webster:  "This is a lot more important
than just the money it generates for Houston.  This is about
prestige and image."   But the question of overall impact on a
community is debatable, according to the HOUSTON CHRONICLE's John
Williams.  Patti Strauss, spokesperson for MONEY magazine, which
ranks cities on livability, said the loss of two teams would have
"very little effect."  And John Brock, head of a top Houston
executive recruiting firm, said sports don't rank as high as
other "quality-of-life issues" when executives consider a move to
a city.  Still, Brock and others note the image problems, notably
whether Houston will be seen as a "city on the decline" if the
teams vacate (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/21).
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