SBD/25/Franchises

HOUSTONIANS LAUNCH TICKET DRIVE TO KEEP ASTROS

     The Greater Houston Partnership launched a drive yesterday
to sell 12,000 additional Astros season tickets in a bid to keep
the team from relocating to Northern VA, but Astros VP Bob
McLaren questioned whether that number would be enough.
According to this morning's HOUSTON CHRONICLE, McLaren said the
team probably needs to sell 14,000 more season tickets annually
"in order to dig itself out of its deep financial hole."  McLaren
also said to anticipate a ticket rate increase for next season,
if they stay, and higher premiums on luxury seating.  Randall
Onstead, the Partnership member who is spearheading the ticket
drive, said the Astros could net $12M off 12,000 additional
season tickets.  McLaren stressed they want to make sure fans
don't feel blackmailed.  McLaren:  "We're afraid this could leave
a bad taste in people's mouths.  Astros Owner Drayton McLane has
scheduled a meeting with Houston Mayor Bob Lanier and Harris
County Judge Robert Eckels.  The three spoke by phone yesterday
(John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/25).
     READY AND WAITING:  Virginia Baseball, the group trying to
lure the Astros to the Metro DC area, may have a lease at RFK
Stadium in DC within a few days, according to District Sports
Commission Dir Jim Dalrymple.  Dalrymple said there are already
plans in place to reconfigure the stadium for baseball.  The
team, which would be called the Virginia Fury, would play in RFK
while a new stadium is built in Northern VA (Thom Loverro,
WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/25).
     HOUSTON'S OTHER PRODIGAL TEAM:  The Oilers and Astrodome
USA, the company owned by McLane that manages the facility, will
go to an arbitrator over the financial losses from the preseason
game canceled due to the condition of the Astrodome's turf.
Astrodome USA President Carl Marsalis:  "My personal opinion is
that arbitration won't work and the judge will have to settle
this."  Officials claim losses from the game could top $2.5M
(HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/25).
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