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Nashville and Oilers Closer to Deal : Pro football: Mayor says final obstacles cleared to relocate team from Houston, but team more cautious about deal.

From Associated Press

A three-hour meeting Wednesday helped clear up the final roadblocks in a 50-page deal to relocate the Houston Oilers to Nashville, Mayor Phil Bredesen said.

“We have cleared up everything. We have a deal,” Bredesen said Wednesday afternoon after returning from Houston.

He flew down Wednesday morning for a meeting with Oiler owner Bud Adams. Bredesen said the two made only “lawyerly” changes in the 50-page agreement.

Adams followed Bredesen to Nashville in his own jet. The two will sign the deal Thursday morning in the lobby of the Metro Nashville Courthouse, the mayor said.

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Bredesen said some additional milestones were added to requirements for luxury suite and seat license sales. Other blanks in the agreement were also filled in, he said.

Bredesen said the deal will include a 30-year lease on the stadium with an option for 10 more years at Adams’ request to protect his children.

The Oilers, however, were a bit more cautious after Bredesen’s meeting with Adams.

“It’s not a done deal until it’s signed off on, but there’s nothing other than the lawyering that needs to be done before we’re ready to move forward,” Mike McClure, Oiler executive vice president, said. “Now it’s in the lawyers’ hands.”

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Behind closed doors for more than three hours, Adams and Bredesen hashed out details of the city’s $292 million plan to bring the Oilers to Tennessee.

Neither Oilers nor Nashville officials would release specific details. Bredesen said copies of the 50-page agreement would be released today.

It was not immediately known if the non-binding aspect of the agreement would remain in the contract.

“We’ll discuss any of those in the future when we get to that point,” McClure said.

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The deal before Adams last Monday gave either side options to break it until a final lease on a new stadium is agreed to in early March. Adams also has to work out problems with his current lease at the Astrodome, which ends after the 1997 season.

Houston Mayor Bob Lanier said Wednesday that he will make no last-ditch effort to keep the Oilers in town.

“You have to consider whether or not you think it’s wise to spend taxpayer money . . . for that particular form of entertainment,” Lanier, who won overwhelming re-election last week, said. “I wouldn’t do it without the taxpayers voting for it. I haven’t seen a deal yet that I would vote for myself.”

Lanier opposes building a new stadium, Adams’ main demand to stay in Houston. The Nashville proposal includes a new stadium.

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Adams postponed Monday’s scheduled signing of the document, which extends the two parties’ exclusive negotiating contract until March.

The Nashville stadium would be paid for primarily through a bond issue and the sale of luxury seats and the rights to buy season tickets. The city council in Nashville and the state Legislature also must approve the deal.

The Oilers have been in Houston since 1959 as a charter member of the old American Football League, which later merged with the NFL.


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