IN MIDST OF OILERS STRUGGLE, HOUSTON EXAMINES SPORTS' PLACE
A group of downtown Houston consultants has designed a plan
to keep the Oilers in Houston and increase profitability for
owner Bud Adams. The "Fourth Down Plan" calls for: guarantees
for Adams -- either through public or private funds -- that the
Dome's 20,000 end-zone seats are sold for every game; Adams pays
Astrodome USA a fixed-rent of $250,000/season and keeps 75% of
parking and concessions; Adams gets an agreement from the city
for a new stadium within five years -- with a $5M payment from
the city if ground is not broken within that time. In exchange,
Adams would have to pledge that any increase in profits "must be
spent on his players until the Oilers reach a Super Bowl" (John
McClain, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/27).
TEAM-BY-TEAM: In the midst of the Oilers' threats to move
from the Astrodome, several articles in this weekend's HOUSTON
CHRONICLE examined the venue situations facing the city's
franchises. ASTROS -- Owner Drayton McLane, who holds the lease
on the Dome, is not pushing for a new stadium. However, McLane
says the 30-year-old facility "just needs to be enhanced, to be
taken to the year 2000." McLane is looking for $80M-$100M from
local officials for improvements: "We can't have the Rocky
Mountains in the background or the downtown skyline view. But we
have the allure of being the original domed stadium." ROCKETS --
They feel the 20-year-old Summit is outdated by NBA standards.
However, because of the fallout from the Oilers negotiations
which "subsequently turned off so many sports fans in Houston,"
owner Les Alexander would not comment on any future plans. It is
not believed the Rockets would threaten to leave to get city
concessions. PRO HOCKEY -- The IHL Aeros averaged 11,600 last
season at the Summit and hold an exclusive lease for the facility
until 2003. In addition, Hohlfeld notes that "the NHL's
expansion plans currently do not rank Houston at or near the top
of the list" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/27).
NATIONAL EXPOSURE: "NBC Nightly News" took a look at the
plight of the Oilers and the rash of NFL franchises relocating.
Harris County official Terry O'Rourke: "We paid $67 million [in
'88] to help Bud Adams and the Oilers play football here and
we're going to make sure they play football here" ("NBC Nightly