Mayor Phil Bredesen flew to Houston this morning to talk wit
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Mayor Phil Bredesen flew to Houston this morning to talk with Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams about the details of a 50-page agreement to move the NFL team to Tennessee.
``He had a lengthy conversation on the phone with Mr. Adams last night and decided he’d fly out to Houston this morning,″ mayor’s spokeswoman Tam Gordon said.
Neither she nor Oilers spokesman Dave Pearson knew the details of the conversation, or what the mayor would discuss with him today.
Pearson said Bredesen and Adams began their face-to-face meeting at 10:15 a.m.
``They’re obviously reviewing the project agreement,″ Pearson said today. ``Whether it will be formally executed I can’t tell you.″
Adams postponed Monday’s scheduled signing of the document, which lays out details of the city’s $292 million plan to relocate the Oilers and build them a stadium.
Asked whether Bredesen felt the agreement would be signed, Gordon said ``He’s confident that things will work out.″
Bredesen, who flew with negotiators Byron Trauger and Dennis Bottorff, was expected to return to Nashville this afternoon.
The day before, Bredesen shopped in Memphis for support of his plan to woo the Oilers.
``I’m not trying to say it’s just as good for Memphis as it is for Nashville ... I genuinely believe it’s very good for the state of Tennessee and for the other cities in the state of Tennessee,″ Bredesen said Tuesday.
``And certainly, as the other major city in the state of Tennessee, I think Memphis stands to benefit.″
Memphis sports boosters have sought an NFL team for more than 20 years, and the possibility of the Oilers moving to Nashville is less than joyful news to some Memphis residents.
Bredesen made his pitch for Memphis support at a Rotary luncheon.
His proposal would bring the Oilers to Nashville in 1998. The team has two years left on its stadium deal in Houston, but might be able to get out of it early, he said.
``If the team comes early, and I think there’s a chance they would want to, their preference would be to try to find someplace to play (in Memphis),″ he said.
No agreement will be final, he said, until the Oilers sign a lease on a Nashville stadium. That could take place next March.
``There are lots of ways for both parties to get out between now and the time the formal lease is signed,″ he said.
The proposal, including a new stadium, would cost more than $290 million.
It would be funded 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 must give their approval.
The Oilers have been in Houston since 1959 when they were a charter member of the old American Football League, which later merged with the NFL.
While Bredesen said the Oilers might want to play temporarily in Memphis, the Mad Dogs of the Canadian Football League have exclusive rights for professional football in the city’s 63,000-seat stadium.
Mad Dogs manager Pepper Rodgers said he has not talked with the Oilers or anyone else about sharing the stadium or giving up the lease to it.
``I think it would be financially impossible for both of us to play together,″ Rodgers said. ``Our lease would hurt them and their playing would hurt us.″
The Mad Dogs struggled with low attendance in their inaugural season this year and have until Dec. 1 to tell the CFL if they plan to play a second season.