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ASTROS AND SPORTS AUTHORITY CLOSE TO SIGNING 32-YEAR LEASE
Published June 16, 1998
The Astros and the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority are close to signing a lease and two other agreements on Wednesday that will make it "virtually impossible for the Astros to leave Houston for 32 years," according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The deal includes "stiff penalties" should the team try to move from the new ballpark under construction downtown. The agreements allow the Astros to keep all revenues generated at the ballpark in return for paying the authority $7.1M annually for 30 years after it opens in 2000. The team can also use it for events other than baseball. The authority is expected to spend $9.5M annually in tax dollars to subsidize building the park. The authority "put a strict performance lease in the contract saying home games must be played there" in exchange for a $3.4M annual lease payment. The deal states that the only "way out of a performance lease is if the franchise were to go into bankruptcy." To get around that possibility, the authority has crafted a license agreement allowing the Astros to keep all revenues from naming, advertising, telecom and broadcast rights in exchange for a $1.2M annual payment, and a nonrelocation agreement that says the team must pay $75-250M to the authority "if it wants to leave, depending on how much of the lease is left" (John Williams, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/16). BIG MAC HITS HOUSTON: Tickets for the Astros' first home series against the Cardinals "were selling at a brisk pace" as of late yesterday afternoon, and the Astros were projecting at least 100,000 in attendance for the three-game series that begins tonight (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/16).