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Houston mayor not inclined to let Oilers leave early

January 23, 1997

HOUSTON (AP) _ Some Houston business and government officials are asking Mayor Bob Lanier to let the Oilers out of their lease with the Astrodome a year early, but the mayor says he’s not inclined to.

Oilers owner Bud Adams, who has announced his intention to move the franchise to Tennessee in time for the 1998 season, said last October that he wouldn’t try to buy out the last year of his Houston lease.

But after the team drew crowds of fewer than 21,000 for the last three home games, Adams changed his mind and decided he wanted to leave a year early.

Acting on Adams’ behalf, officials from Astrodome USA, which owns the stadium, approached Lanier on Tuesday along with authorities from Harris County and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a major Astrodome user.

The officials asked Lanier to let Adams buy out the lease. No Oilers representative attended the meeting.

Lanier has opposed letting the Oilers out of their lease unless the NFL guarantees Houston another franchise.

``At this point, I haven’t seen any reason to alter my position,″ Lanier said.

Lanier told the groups he would give them an answer Monday.

The Oilers eventually will call Nashville home. Until a new stadium there is finished, they could play in Memphis or elsewhere in Tennessee.

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