Road is clear for Oilers to make move to Nashville Mayor, owner sign nonbinding contract


HOUSTON -- Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams signed on the dotted line yesterday to move his football team from his hometown to Nashville, Tenn.

The nonbinding contract was signed after Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen and three Tennessee negotiators flew to Houston to iron out Adams' final requests.

One included adding a 10-year option to the Oilers' 30-year Nashville stadium lease, a change Adams, 72, sought to protect his heirs.

Soon after the inking in Houston, the parties flew in separate planes to Nashville for a ceremonial signing of the 52-page contract this morning.

The Nashville Metro Council is expected to approve the deal Tuesday. Oilers and Tennessee officials then must meet a series of financing milestones by March, when NFL owners will be asked for approval.

Adams, after arriving in Nashville, said he is not disturbed by the 30-year contract, which calls for stiff penalties should the team decide to leave earlier.

"We've been in Houston for 36 years," Adams said. "Thirty years is not a problem."

Adams, who founded the Oilers in 1959 as a charter member of the old American Football League, plans to move the team to a JTC city willing to do what Houston won't -- build a state-of-the-art, football-only stadium.

The contract calls for the Oilers to begin play in Tennessee in 1998, but it could be next year if the team can buy out contracts in Houston.

Houston Mayor Bob Lanier said he expects the team will leave.

"You have to consider whether you think it's wise to spend taxpayer money . . . for that particular form of entertainment," said Lanier. "I wouldn't do it without the taxpayers voting for it."

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