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EVERYTHING WAS FINE UNTIL THE DARN VOTERS BUTTED IN
Published February 29, 1996
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).