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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

Impasse clears on Patriots stadium - Steam plant finds new Hartford site

By Tina Cassidy, Globe Staff, April 2, 1999

HARTFORD -- Under intense pressure to get out of the way, the owners of a steam plant company on the proposed New England Patriots stadium site have agreed to demolish the facility and relocate their corporate headquarters.

And so months of fretting and posturing ended with smiles and handshakes yesterday when Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland said the most complicated issue associated with the team's move had been resolved.

``We're talking about the whole enchilada,'' Rowland said at a news conference at the Capitol.

The Patriots issued a statement saying they were ``encouraged by this development and continue to be enthusiastic about the stadium project.''

The deal was announced after Rowland and the steam plant's corporate chief, Arthur Marquardt of CTG Resources Inc., ate takeout Caesar salads in the governor's office and smoothed weeks of hostility over lack of progress on the matter.

But in the end, the resolution seemed so simple it's surprising it took so long.

The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, a quasi-public agency that processes trash for use as energy, has agreed in principle to run piping from its plant a mile away to the stadium site, feeding that location with heating and cooling along with the rest of downtown.

The authority will sell its power to CTG, which will become an energy retailer instead of a producer.

CTG also said it would raze its 1960s office building next to the steam plant and move its headquarters to leased space in a vacant tower in nearby Constitution Plaza, although that part of the deal has not been completed.

CTG was considering building a new corporate office facility at another location, but the $48 million price tag angered the governor. None of the $374 million in public financing for the stadium and infrastructure is earmarked for clearing the site. Instead, the corporate relocation will be funded privately by Connecticut's business community, which so far has pledged about $25 million to that component of the project.

Leasing space in Constitution Plaza would be less expensive, officials said, eliminating the $23 million gap to move the offices.

``The gap is significantly smaller, if there is one, far more manageable. . . . and we have a lot of other partners here,'' Rowland said, referring to other business leaders who have pledged to help get the site cleared by providing more money and resources.

If CTG does not lease at Constitution Plaza, the company has agreed to move to a temporary location in order to clear the way for the stadium.

With the site cleared, the state can begin the significant task of cleaning up pollution there caused by a coal gasification plant that no longer exists.

Rowland said he believes the location will be ready for construction by next spring, a schedule that must be met for the Patriots to begin playing in Hartford by 2002.

In addition to the announcement about the deal regarding the site, Rowland released a status report to the Patriots a day earlier than required.

The 11-page document, required to be ready today as part of the development agreement with the team, came to this simple conclusion: ``The stadium project is progressing rapidly on all fronts within the project timeline. There are no problems of site availability, preparation, cost or remediation that cannot be overcome in time to make the site available on-time for stadium construction.''

Besides clearing the site, the team must be convinced by the report that the state has enough money set aside for the infrastructure to allow cars to exit all parking lots within one hour of stadium events, and must have a plan ensuring that the Patriots will not be held responsible for any environmental problems or cleanup.

The status report is vague in addressing the infrastructure issue, saying that a ``traffic impact analysis'' is still being developed.

But Dean Pagani, a spokesman for Rowland, said $55 million of the $374 million project already set aside for infrastructure would be enough to cover the parking, roads, and cleanup.

The report also says the state has begun the process of obtaining $50 million in environmental liability insurance, which will cost between $300,000 and $500,000 a year.

``Our technical staff will be evaluating this report along with other information as it becomes available in order to assess the viability of the 2002 opening of the stadium,'' the Patriots' statement said. ``We view the release of this report as further evidence of the significant effort being put forth by the state.''


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