History and League Success
The Texans were formed as an expansion team in 2002 (they are the youngest of the current franchises). The team has made the playoffs six times but has never advanced beyond the Divisional Round.
After the controversial relocations of the original Cleveland Browns to Baltimore (as the Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Oilers (an original AFL franchise) to Nashville (as the Tennessee Titans), the NFL quickly announced plans (in March 1998) to ultimately expand to 32 teams. Cleveland was given the 31st franchise (and, as part of the Ravens' move, the team was given the Cleveland Browns name and historical records). The plan was to consider one of three cities for a potential 32nd franchise: Houston (the then fourth largest US media market, Toronto (which would be the first NFL franchise outside the United States, and is the fifth-largest media market among all North American cities) and Los Angeles (the second largest US media market, which had also lost two franchises previously).
Meanwhile, Houston businessman Bob McNair (who only two weeks prior failed to get Houston a National Hockey League franchise, and notwithstanding rumors that the NFL would not expand for at least a decade) began plans to bring professional football back to Houston. He quickly gained the support of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officials who supported his plan for a state-of-the-art domed stadium (to replace the venerable, but rapidly aging and out-of-date, Astrodome).
Both McNair and Michael Ovitz (who wanted to bring a franchise to Los Angeles) asked the NFL to make its intentions for a 32nd franchise known quickly, lest public support wane in the interim. The NFL did so, announcing in October 1998 that it would definitely expand to 32 teams, and decide by April 1999 the location of the 32nd franchise. But by then, Orvitz was faced with a competitor for the potential Los Angeles franchise: Ed Roski, who planned to build a stadium within the shell of the historic Los Angeles Coliseum (host of two prior Olympic games and previously home of the Los Angeles Rams before their move to St. Louis).
In March 1999, the NFL (not unexpectedly) chose Los Angeles as the location for the 32nd franchise, but with a caveat: Los Angeles had to arrange for an ownership group and stadium deal acceptable to the league by September 15 of that year, or Houston would be next in line. One month later the NFL was totally shocked at the absolute lack of progress: neither Ovitz nor Roski would concede to the other nor work together, neither would commit to a state-of-the-art facility (something Houston promised from the outset), and Los Angeles (in an unusual bit of fiscal discipline for the liberal-dominated city) refused to allow taxpayer money to be used in building a stadium. A follow-up visit the next month yielded only slightly more progress (since Ovitz decided to use the Coliseum site for his proposed facility, complete with a 60-acre complex of parks, parking garages and shopping areas) but not enough to alleviate the concerns of then-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (Ovitz' proposed plan included $225 million for parking garages alone, and both Los Angeles and California were still showing surprising fiscal discipline in not agreeing to the use of taxpayer funds), who advised McNair to resume discussions with the expansion committee overseeing the franchise award.
By early September 1999 the Los Angeles situation had actually worsened with the addition of a third group (led by Marvin Davis) competing for the franchise, with no progress otherwise; the expansion committee notified McNair and other Houston officials to be prepared to attend an NFL owners' meeting the following month in Atlanta. The NFL would still consider a bid from any of the Los Angeles groups, but now would consider a bid from McNair's Houston group as well. Though Ovitz ultimately bid $540 million for the 32nd franchise, McNair offered $700 million and his bid was accepted, thus Houston was awarded the franchise.
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