Franchise representatives of the NBA's Houston Rockets have not spoken with anyone in Baltimore about the possibility of moving the team to that city if Houston will not build the Rockets a new arena, a team spokeswoman said yesterday.
"Our franchise has not talked to anyone," said Angela Blakeney, a spokeswoman for the Rockets.
Houston voters this week rejected an arena financing plan that would have provided funds for a state-of-the-art facility for the Rockets.
The Baltimore Sun reported yesterday that over the past year the Rockets quietly have explored the possibility of moving to Baltimore. The Sun also said team representatives have visited the city.
Blakeney said no one from the franchise has visited Baltimore.
"Our position [following the referendum] is to take a step back and take some time to focus on our core business of basketball and sit down later and think about what to do next," Blakeney said.
NBA Commissioner David Stern told the Houston Chronicle this week that he will not oppose the Houston Rockets moving to one of several cities that are currently talking to the franchise.
The Rockets currently play in the aging Compaq Center, formerly known as The Summit, which was built in 1975 and is the second-oldest facility in the league. Their lease runs through November 2003, Blakeney said.
Professional sports teams often threaten to leave as leverage to get public funding for new arenas and stadiums.
In 1996, Houston voters approved a referendum to finance a $310 million baseball and football stadium, which will be paid with new hotel and car rental taxes. Construction on the stadium will begin soon and the facility is scheduled to open in 2002, in time for the new Houston NFL expansion franchise that the league approved this year.
The Houston Oilers moved three years ago to Tennessee. They are now known as the Tennessee Titans and play in Nashville.