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WHEN LES HAS MORE: ROCKETS OWNER CLOSE TO NHL OILERS DEAL
Published October 27, 1997
Rockets Owner Leslie Alexander said Sunday that his purchase of the NHL Oilers "could be finalized within a week," according to Eddie Sefko of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Over the weekend it was reported that Alexander has a "handshake agreement" to purchase the team from Peter Pocklington for $85M. Under the deal, the Oilers will remain in Edmonton for "at least" three more seasons. Sefko adds that during its three year stay in Edmonton, if the team makes a profit, it will remain in Edmonton, Alexander will sell to a local buyer and he will receive an expansion franchise in Houston. If the Oilers lose money, Alexander will be allowed to relocate the team to Houston. The three- year stay in Edmonton should also "provide enough time for a new arena to be built in Houston" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/27). If Alexander owns the NHL and NBA teams in Houston, "the fight" between Alexander and Chuck Watson of the IHL Aeros and Arena Operating Co. over control of a new arena "would effectively become moot" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/25). FROM EDMONTON: Pocklington: "This is the one (offer) that will probably get done. This is the one I like the best" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/25). Stock & MacDonald reported that sources said Pocklington "wants to remain part of the Oiler organization under" the new ownership (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 10/25). Dan Barnes reported that the deal "would allow" Pocklington to keep a 10% stake in the team, receive some of the $12M in "expansion revenues due to the Oilers over the next few seasons and perhaps make a reappearance in the process three years from now" (EDMONTON SUN, 10/25). In Toronto, Al Strachan wrote the NHL "will make sure that it is more profitable for Alexander to start a new team in Houston than to move the Oilers there" (TORONTO SUN, 10/25).