SBD/29/Franchises

EVERYTHING WAS FINE UNTIL THE DARN VOTERS BUTTED IN

     Should the Nashville Metro Council fail to give final
approval for a deal to lure the Oilers tonight, team officials
said they may look elsewhere.  The HOUSTON CHRONICLE reports
opponents of the Nashville stadium deal delivered signatures of
44,485 people demanding a public vote.  If 28,084 of those are
registered voters, a referendum must be held around May 1.  This
action has led some council members to say "if voters are going
to have the final say," there is no reason to act tonight.
Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen said he "would not back down" from
his plan to use $4M in water fees annually to fund the deal.
Polls consistently show voters favor the Oilers deal by a 2-1
margin.  Meanwhile, the TN Senate approved the state's $55M share
by a 23-9 margin (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/29).  Larry
Graham, who heads Concerned Citizens of Nashville, says "among
the most vocal opponents of the project" are women, many of whom
are calling for more education funding (Jane DuBose, ATLANTA
CONSTITUTION, 2/29).
     WHAT ABOUT BOB?  Houston Mayor Bob Lanier hopes to strike a
bargain similar to the one NFL owners gave Cleveland last month
that will guarantee the city another team in exchange for
allowing the Oilers out of their Astrodome lease.  The CHRONICLE
reports Lanier will meet with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
Friday in Washington to consider options before a March NFL
meeting in which Lanier will address owners about his city's
desire for another team.  John Williams notes Lanier has "at
least three good bargaining chits":  1) The threat of an
antitrust lawsuit against the NFL; 2) the likely construction of
a new stadium financed through PSLs and parking fees; and 3) a
guarantee the Oilers must stay in Houston for two more years
unless a deal can be struck.  Lanier also hopes to "change the
impression" Houston is not a good football town.  Williams
writes, "Many NFL owners have frowned on the city because there
has been virtually no local effort to keep the Oilers," unlike in
Cleveland (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/29).
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Edmonton Oilers, Franchises, NFL

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