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OPINIONS DIFFER ON POSSIBLE ASTROS MOVE
Published October 24, 1995
One "high-ranking" MLB official told the HOUSTON CHRONICLE it is "extremely unlikely" the Astros will be sold and allowed to move to Washington, DC, for the '96 season. The official: "It isn't going to happen. The timing on this is terrible. We are not going to move a team out of the fourth-largest city in the country when we are trying to overcome so many other problems." Astros VP Bob McLaren was surprised by the comments: "No one in Major League Baseball has expressed those conclusions to us." Another "baseball insider" said MLB's owners are "queasy" about William Collins, who is seeking to attract a team to Northern VA. The source: "Collins talks a good game, and he's a real glad- hander. But he tends to say some things he can't back up" (Terry Blount, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/24). Astros Owner Drayton McLane holds a conference call today with Houston Mayor Bob Lanier and Harris County Judge Robert Eckels on what financial package would be needed to keep the club. Also today, the Greater Houston Partnership will meet to gauge business support for the Astros. Estimates are that local leaders are faced with raising enough money to buy between 18,000 and 22,000 season tickets per year -- $68M over five years (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/24). FROM THE TEAM: Astros President Tal Smith was quoted by BLOOMBERG NEWS as saying the team can no longer afford to survive in Houston. Smith: "I regret that it's come to this point, but the fact of the matter is the club is really not viable in the Houston market" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/24). CONFIDENT FURY: After the World Series, Virginia Baseball officials are expected to announce a five-month plan ending on Opening Day at RFK in '96. Sources say the group, which would call the team the Virginia Fury, has agreed upon lease terms at RFK, which could be announced as early as Monday. Still, one Astros source, who last week said chances of the team being sold were at least 50-60%, now puts them at about 10% (Thom Loverro, WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/24). Virginia Baseball is reportedly soliciting bids from three Richmond ad agencies -- Arnold Finnegan Martin, Siddall Matus & Coughter and The Martin Agency - - for a $2-3M advertising account (ADWEEK, 10/16 issue).