SBD/18/Facilities Venues

IT'S OFFICIAL: ASTROS SIGN 30-YEAR LEASE FOR NEW BALLPARK

          The Astros signed a 30-year lease yesterday to play in
     the new downtown ballpark starting in 2000, according to
     John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  The signing "ends
     what at times has been tumultuous bargaining by the Astros." 
     Under the lease agreement, the Astros will pay the Houston-
     Harris County Sports Authority $4.6M annual rent and put
     $2.5M each year in a fund for capital improvements.  In
     return, the team will keep all revenues from the ballpark,
     which team Owner Drayton McLane has estimated could mean an
     additional $20M annually.  Williams writes that officials
     "took great caution to strike a tough lease with McLane" and
     negotiated a deal that would "heavily penalize the Astros if
     they leave during the lease" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/18).    

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