The city of Nashville is one step closer to striking NFL gol
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ The city of Nashville is one step closer to striking NFL gold with its exclusive and confidential agreement with the Houston Oilers.
After four hours of meetings Friday, Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen and Oilers owner Bud Adams signed an agreement that forbids both sides from negotiating with other parties, including the city of Houston.
``(The) agreement says that between now and Oct. 20, we will negotiate exclusively with each other and try to reach an agreement on terms under which the team would relocate to Nashville,″ Bredesen said.
More than 250 people attended a party at the Wild Horse Saloon, one of Nashville’s premier country music hot spots, to welcome Adams to Nashville.
Adams said if all goes well, the Oilers could be in Nashville much sooner than anticipated.
``We can make it the NFL team of Tennessee,″ Adams said, then added ``in 1996.″
Adams said he was proud of the 36-year tradition of football in Houston, but that the economy and demographics over the last three years made a move more attractive.
Asked by a reporter if he would entertain a counter-offer from Houston, Adams responded, ``No, no.″
Neither would discuss further details.
An Oilers management team has been in Nashville since Tuesday, and Bredesen said Adams contacted him three weeks ago.
Adams is no stranger to highly visible visits to other cities, most notably when his lease at the Houston Astrodome was up.
In 1987, Adams went to Jacksonville, Fla. before winning a pledge of $70 million in improvements for the Astrodome. He said last week that he wants a new stadium. He’s called the Astrodome inadequate.
Nashville has been trying to find a team for its new 20,000-seat downtown indoor arena. Attempts to land the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves in 1994 and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils this year ended up in failure as both teams opted for better deals at home.
But this time, Bredesen is hoping to strike oil, so to speak.
``I am telling you there are no deal killer’s on either side so far,″ Bredesen told the crowd, some of whom wore stickers that read ``This Bud’s For Tennessee,″ with an Oilers logo and colors on it.
Bredesen said Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist has committed to help with the negotiations, noting that a new team ``will be a Tennessee team, not just a Nashville team.″
Adams and Bredesen are expected to travel three hours east tonight to attend the exhibition game between the Oilers and Washington Redskins at the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. They will also meet with Sundquist prior to the game.
Bredesen has said he would build a football stadium for the Oilers if they decide to relocate, though there has been speculation that either Neyland Stadium or the Liberty Bowl in Memphis would serve as a temporary home for the team while a new Nashville stadium is built.