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Friday, June 13, 1997

Adams says Astrodome lease ended, team move already under way

By TERESA M. WALKER / AP Sports Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Both sides signed off on the Oilers' lease with the Astrodome on Thursday, finally freeing the NFL franchise to move to Tennessee, team owner Bud Adams said.

"We still have some legal work, some paper work to get done on that, but the Astrodome signing today should put everything to bed pretty quick," Adams said at a news conference where he unveiled the Oilers' revised logo.

Harris County and Houston officials have not yet signed off on their part of the deal letting the Oilers escape Texas a year early. A vote isn't expected by the Harris County Commission before June 24.

That hasn't stopped the Oilers from tearing down pictures at their Houston practice facility and dismantling other equipment. Three truckloads of computers and files for the team's ticket office left Houston on Monday, bound for Memphis.

The Oilers will pack up the remaining equipment at their Texas headquarters by July 10 for the move to Tennessee, general manager Floyd Reese said. Training camp begins July 18 at Tennessee State University, and the team's new practice facility will open as scheduled Aug. 15, he said.

Adams said the new ticket office at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, where the Oilers will play their home games until their new stadium in Nashville is completed, has been set up and will start selling season tickets Monday.

"Right now we're just concentrating on getting the team over here," Adams said.

When the Oilers take the field Aug. 2 for their first game in Tennessee, an exhibition game with the New Orleans Saints, players will wear their powder blue uniforms with only a patch on the left shoulder and on the back of each helmet commemorating the inaugural season here.

Adams showed off the new logo, which features the traditional blue oil derrick on a background of a slanted, red Tennessee flag with the words "Tennessee Oilers" along the bottom and the number "97" beside the derrick. At the top edge is a blue circle with three white stars from the state flag.

"The folks at NFL Properties are now working on our uniforms," Adams said. "We'll use this uniform this year, but being our inaugural year, we wanted to have something with Tennessee on the Oiler jerseys and helmets."

The relocation that was first announced in August 1995 has been delayed repeatedly, first by a local referendum by Nashville voters, then by an Ohio congressman who wanted to penalize leagues for moving franchises and most recently by the paperwork tying the Oilers to the Astrodome through the 1997 season.

Team officials spent the past few months negotiating with representatives from the Astrodome, Harris County and Houston before finally reaching a tentative agreement last month. Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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