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Patriots plan hits hurdle

Prior Coverage

-- JUNE 23 --
Patriots look to win over town on stadium

-- JUNE 9 --
43 of 80 suites sold for proposed stadium

-- MAY 25 --
Stadium bill signed, but seat sales lag

Impasse on steam plant site clears
Finneran offers idea on Patriots stadium
In Conn., Patriots' stadium deal opponents plan lawsuit
Hartford steam plant defends its moving cost
Patriots stadium plan threatened
Kraft has new suitor in Houston
Patriots dealt setback on Conn. site
Moving fee could trip Patriots
Conn. must meet April 2 deadline
How Kraft's Mass. dream fizzled
Krafts seen winning generous deal
Conn. OK's deal
Activist skeptical
More stadium fallout
Whither Foxboro

Finneran offers idea on Patriots stadium

By Tina Cassidy and Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff, March 25, 1999

Meg Vaillancourt of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

With the New England Patriots Hartford stadium deal in limbo, House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran yesterday said he had some fresh ideas to get a new facility built in Massachusetts.

Among them: Have the team sell stock to the public to finance a replacement for Foxboro Stadium.

``Follow the Packers model. That's an option,'' Finneran said, referring to public ownership of the Green Bay Packers.

In an interview yesterday, the speaker did not alter his fierce opposition to using tax dollars to finance sports stadiums, a stance that last year killed a legislative deal to keep the Patriots in Massachusetts. But he did not shut the door to further talks with Kraft.

``The team and Connecticut apparently have agreed to try and work this out and if they don't I'm prepared to listen to what they say and perhaps offer some ideas,'' Finneran said.

The speaker said he understood that Kraft did not want to take on any partners. But following the Green Bay model of stock ownership, without voting rights, would not infringe on the Kraft's control, he said.

Moreover, such a stock offering would allow Patriots fans who have been critical of his stance on this issue to take action to keep the team in Massachusetts, Finneran added.

A spokesman for the Patriots said that NFL rules prohibit teams from issuing stock. ``The Green Bay Packers are the lone exception, and they were grandfathered in years ago,'' the spokesman said.

Finneran has refiled the 1998 legislation to aid the team in renovating Foxboro Stadium by providing $57 million in infrastructure improvements along Route 1. That bill, which would not permit the use of public money to build the stadium itself and which Kraft said was insufficient, was not taken up by the House last year.

In a good sign for the Boston Red Sox, Finneran said that limits on infrastructure spending would not necessarily apply to the baseball team in its quest for a new ballpark.

As for the Patriots, the Mattapan Democrat declined to elaborate on other prospects, but said any land lease-back deal around the facility -- as called for in last year's $72 million bill approved by the Senate -- would not be up for discussion.

The speaker said it would be premature to elaborate while Kraft is still hoping the proposed Hartford site can be cleared of a steam plant and its corporate headquarters in time for construction to begin and the team to relocate from Foxborough by 2002.

But Connecticut officials are grappling with the site issue. So far, negotiations between the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority and CTG Resources Inc., which owns the steam plant, have been fruitless. Another option has been for CTG to sell its business to Northeast Utilities, obviating the need for the headquarters.


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