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