Oilers find few fans willing to fill Astrodome this season
Dec. 17, 1996
HOUSTON (AP) _ Kelly Lipinski doesn't care what people might say. She's one of the chosen few still willing to call themselves a Houston Oilers fan.
``They're still our home team,'' she insists. ``I'm still an Oilers fan, always have been. That's just me, even though I know they're leaving.''
From sports call-in radio shows to the Internet, there are jokes being made about people like Lipinski. Obviously she got a free ticket, some might snicker. Others may speculate on the state of her sanity.
After all, why in the world would anyone subject themselves to watch a team as up-and-down as the Oilers? Why would you put your heart on the line for a love that is about to leave you for Nashville?
Lipinski laughs at the speculation. Without reservation, she admits that she had a (gasp!) good time at the Oilers last home game on Sunday, despite the disappointing 21-13 loss to Cincinnati Bengals.
Not only did she enjoy herself, but she would even go again.
``If the tickets were a lot less, I'd go a lot more.''
Is there no end to the self-sacrifice?
In the Oilers last appearance this year at the Astrodome Sunday, Lipinski and her husband made history. The two were among the 15,131 die-hards who made it to the Astrodome, the fewest to ever attend an Oilers game in the team's 36-year history.
``Before we went we said we'd probably make history and be part of the smallest crowd ever at an Oilers' game,'' Lipinski said. ``It was kind of comical.''
More like tragicomedy.
Considering the lowest previous attendance for the Oilers was also this year, (20,107) when the Oilers played the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 24, chances are next season could be just as ugly.
The Oilers plan to pack up for Nashville when their lease expires after the 1997 season.
Owner Bud Adams has said that the current Astrodome configuration leaves no room for more luxury box seating and therefore, he claims, he continues to lose money.
``I'm really sad to see them go because I feel like we supported them in the up and down years and they're deserting us for more money,'' Lipinski said.
But if the team is still here next year, she'll go.
``There are the few of us,'' she says of the Oiler fan numbers. ``I'm very supportive of the team and their players.''