Kraft has new suitor in Houston
By Will McDonough, Globe Staff, 03/11/99
The Patriots have picked up a new suitor, which gives owner Bob Kraft a new card to play if he so desires.
However, someone close to Kraft said yesterday Kraft's ''focus is on Connecticut,'' and the Krafts had not spoken with Bob McNair of Houston, who sent letters to nine NFL owners last week saying he was interested in buying a team.
McNair is trying to bring an NFL team to Houston. He hopes Houston is awarded an expansion team at the annual league meetings next week, but Los Angeles is favored to get the nod.
Officials in Houston have offered $300 million in public money to construct a stadium for an NFL team.
But McNair doesn't have a team. So last week he contacted nine teams, including New England, that are having stadium problems, saying he would be willing to pay top dollar for a team.
Kraft has a tremendous deal on the table in Connecticut, but officials there now know that if anything happens to delay building a stadium in Hartford, Kraft has more options that just returning to Foxboro Stadium.
Since buying the Patriots, Kraft has said repeatedly that he would not move the team out of New England unless he feels he is in a position where he could not compete financially.
Houston gives him that option.
Chip Namias, a spokesman for McNair, said a story in yesterday's Boston Herald indicating McNair was interested in buying and moving the Patriots to Houston if a Hartford deal fell through was ''overblown.''
''Mr. McNair hasn't targeted the Patriots over any other team,'' said Namias. ''The reason he's talked to Bob Kraft a few times is because Mr. Kraft is the co-chairman of the finance committee and he would have reason to discuss his issues with Mr. Kraft. What Mr. McNair did was send letters to teams in nine cities currently trying to work out new deals and indicated to them that if something shouldn't work out that he would love to have a conversation with those teams.''
Patriots spokesman Stacey James issued a statement saying in part, ''Mr. Kraft has informed Mr. McNair that the Patriots are fully focused on bringing the Hartford stadium to fruition.''
Nick Cafardo of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.