Rockets Exec Senior VP John Thomas said that Harris County-Houston Sports Authority Chair Jack Rains "has placed football as a top priority" in Houston and told Thomas "to consider moving the franchise to the suburbs," according to John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. In response, Thomas sent Rains and other officials a letter asking for clarifications about "certain concerns and questions" that arose after a December 8 meeting between the two sides. Thomas also sent the letter to other city, county and NBA officials. In his letter, Thomas said Rains' remarks could lead to "a situation of grave uncertainty for a franchise that is trying to be competitive in today's world of sports arenas." Rains said there "has been some serious miscommunication" with the Rockets and said he does not want the team to leave the city" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/16). BALLPARK STEPS: The authority signed a final deal yesterday with Brown & Root to build a downtown ballpark for a "guaranteed" $229.5M. KC-based HOK will receive $18.5M from the authority, bringing the cost of the facility to $248M, under the targeted $250M (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/16).