SBD/17/Franchises

TEXAS TEA NO LONGER: HOUSTON LOSES THE OILERS

     Oilers Owner Bud Adams "made it official" yesterday, signing
a nonbinding deal to move to Nashville for the '98 season.  But
Adams is "anxious" move after this season, if he can make a deal
to break his lease with Astrodome USA, according to T.J. Milling
in today's HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  Oilers GM Floyd Reece was in
Memphis yesterday negotiating with the CFL Mad Dogs to share the
Liberty Bowl until Nashville's new stadium -- the key to the
$292M deal -- is ready in '98 (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/17).  Adams:
"We were satisfied with our fans in Houston but we couldn't play
under the existing playing conditions.  It wouldn't allow us to
compete with the Joneses" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/16).
     DETAILS:  The deal as signed was "a little different and a
lot more detailed" than original documents discussed since
August, Milling reports, with some of the "so-called milestones"
pushed back.  The January 20 deadline for the city to sell 82 of
the new stadium's 100 luxury boxes has already been met, with
commitments for all 100 at $50-125,000 each.  In addition, a 10-
year option for the club was added to the 30-year lease.  The
deal will be non-binding until March, when the state's $79M
contribution must be approved by the legislature and NFL owners
are scheduled to vote on the move.  Adams will reportedly receive
$350M in stadium revenues over the first ten years of the deal.
If Memphis shares the Liberty Bowl, the deal includes $28M for
relocation costs, "which could go a long way toward" an Astrodome
lease buyout (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/17).
     IT'S ALL IN A NAME: Adams kicked off a statewide contest to
rename the club, citing the lack of a derrick in the area -- with
Fiddlers and Pioneers both mentioned as possibilities.  Adams:
"This is going to be Tennessee's team" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE,
11/17).  Other names mentioned include Tornados and Tennesseans
(N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/17).
     EYES OF TEXAS COULD CARE LESS:  In Houston, Ed Fowler
writes, "Whenever talk turns to Oiler-retention, most people yawn
as though they'd just heard about the budget crisis in Washington
or some such boring stuff."  Fowler notes most fans wish "Houston
could have a pro football team under different ownership"
(HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/17).  Adams:  "Frankly, I don't think
there is that much feeling towards keeping the Oilers there"
("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/16).
     CORPSE IS STILL WARM:  In Ft. Worth, Gil Lebreton notes that
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones reacted with "polite and compassionate"
words at the news of the Oilers move.  But he is on record as
saying "once Adams leaves, it's open season on the Houston
'market.'"  Lebreton notes, "Just a hunch, but Houston is in no
mood to be 'marketed'" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/17).  Gary
Myers writes "Another day, another NFL franchise is moving" (N.Y.
DAILY NEWS, 11/17).
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