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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

More stadium fallout

Finneran did try to work out a deal

By Will McDonough, Globe Staff, 12/26/98

No one has been tougher on Tom Finneran than this reporter for the House Speaker's part in the Patriots' move to Hartford. For that reason I listened the other day when one of the most informed businessmen on the Boston sports scene told me: ``There's another side to this Finneran-Kraft thing. You should check it out. Finneran is taking the fall here, and it's not the way it appears.''

I did check it out and this is the confirmed story. On two occasions last spring, Finneran went to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and said he wanted to get a stadium deal done. The men agreed and selected representatives who would meet to iron out the details. Jonathan Kraft and Andy Wasynczuk, representing the Patriots, met on several occasions with Finneran's top aide, Bill Kennedy. Several times the Finneran side thought a deal was close only to have the Patriots ask for more. At one point, Finneran aides asked if the Patriots were talking with anyone else about a stadium. The answer was no.

Recent reports out of Connecticut show that answer to be a lie. The Patriots apparently were negotiating with Connecticut as far back as last spring. The Finneran side finally got frustrated when all of its alternatives to settle the differences were pushed aside.

A state representative, who's a high school and college classmate of mine, told me: ``You've been to hard on Finneran. It wasn't all him. If you could have sat in on the [Democratic Party] caucus when we discussed [the stadium] there were a lot of people against it. None of us, including Tom, wanted to see the Patriots leave, and if we have another chance, we'd still like to work it out.'' Like most stories, there are two sides to this one and the truth is stuck somewhere in the middle.

Ricky Williams still doesn't know if he will go to the NFL scouting combine workouts in Indianapolis three weeks after the Super Bowl, but not for the usual reasons. ``If I go, I know I will want to run to show them I can do 4.4s,'' said the likable winner of Heisman Trophy, who was in town this week as the guest of Greg Clifton and Larry Moulter of Woolf Associates. In recent years many top college players, feeling they have nothing to gain by working out, have either skipped the combine or just showed up to take a physical exam. Williams, the ``can't-miss'' running back from Texas who is built in the mold of Earl Campbell and Bo Jackson, doesn't have anything to prove, but he feels his competitive nature might get the best of him if he is on the scene. The multi-talented Williams is committed to pro football but he's also going to spring training with the Texas Rangers. ``I wouldn't go if it wasn't the Rangers, and I thought it was going to be fun,'' said Williams, who played minor league baseball last year for Batavia (N.Y.). ``How many times does someone get a chance to go to the big camp. I still want to be a football player. I don't care who drafts me. I would love it to be Cleveland so I could be the first pick. But I'll go anywhere they pick me.''

People in the Big Ten say it is a done deal that Notre Dame will be the 12th member of the conference and that a league championship game will be added. The NCAA won't allow a championship game (with megabucks for the competing teams) unless a conference has 12 teams. When this happens, there could be a domino effect that may change the landscape of the Big East or even put it out of business. The word is that the Atlantic Coast Conference will go from nine to 12 schools and the three teams they want to add are Boston College, Miami, and Syracuse. Take those three out of the Big East and it's all over for that conference. The feeling is that the ACC would want Boston College because it is in the sixth biggest market in America; Miami because its stadiums would be the site for a conference championship game; and Syracuse because of its domed stadium.

Yo, Connecticut. What is going to happen to the University of Connecticut's Division-1A, big-time football hopes if the Big East falls apart? Do you think Temple and Rutgers are going to pack them in at the new Hartford Stadium?

Which leads me to the best quotes on this Patriots-to-Hartford situation:

Was it Bob Kraft saying his team was last in gross revenue when it is in the top 10?

Was it Bob Kraft saying the commissioner had assured him that there would be no team in the Boston area, and the league following with a statement that no such assurance was ever given?

Or was it this beauty (my favorite) from Connecticut governor John Rowland on the early negotiations with the Krafts: ``They asked [the state] to underwrite a complete sellout on all 68,000 seats. They wanted a full guarantee on all seats.''

The governor told the New York Times he had to tell the legislators that the deal ``was middle of the road, but not the best. It's not gold sealed. It's a Chevy. Not a Volkswagen and it's not a Cadillac.'' I bet if the governor asked any of the other 29 NFL owners to describe the deal he gave the Patriots, they would probably best describe it as a Lamborghini.

Baseball insurers reportedly are balking at many of these new high-salary contracts that are longer than five years. This leaves clubs who have given out long contracts to players such as Mo Vaughn (Angels), Bernie Williams (Yankees), and Kevin Brown (Dodgers) at risk beyond the fifth year. If anything happens to the players and they're unable to play after five years, the team will have to take the hit. Here is what Mo Money got from the Angles:

1999: $5 million bonus, $5 million salary

2000: $9 million salary

2001: $10 million salary

2002: $11 million salary

2003: $8 million bonus, $15 million salary

2004: $15 million salary

2005: Team option for $14 million salary.

Imagine paying $23 million in one year to Mo Money when he will be 36.

For two years I have been puzzled by just one aspect of the Texas Con Man's departure from the Red Sox. His refusal to meet with CEO John Harrington to get a final offer from the Red Sox. But this week it became clear why Roger Clemens is the Texas Con Man. He revealed this week that he had a written letter of agreement with Toronto that would let him out of his contract (via trade) if he demanded it. Clemens knew the Red Sox would never agree to this. Remember all that bull at the time about how he wanted a long-term deal with one team so he could finish out his career with a contender. And how he wouldn't go to any team for just two years. He wanted security, he said. Well, he also wanted an out in case he did well and could demand a big contract from another team. This is exactly what he tried to do with Houston, which is why the Astros told him to take a hike. So much for playing near his family and for a contender.

The people at the FleetCenter were alerted last week to start looking for dates for the Celtics when the NBA lockout was settled. But a few days later, FleetCenter operatives were told to forget about it.

Maybe I shouldn't write this because the Patriots will probably turn him in to the league for tampering. Don't tell the Krafts that Jets coach Bill Parcells gave Bills quarterback Doug Flutie a check for $5,000 in Buffalo last week. If the Krafts find out, they'll try to get the league office to say that he was paying off Flutie, not donating money in the name of Doug's son to autism charities.

The best record in football above the high school level has to belong to the Marlboro Shamrocks of the Eastern Football League. Since 1994, with Bob Brennan coaching and Dave Palazzi at quarterback, the Shamrocks have gone 84-4. They beat the Portland (Ore.) Thunderbolts, 35-13, this year for the national semi-professional title. Brennan says the best team his club has played over the years is Racine, Wis., with Marlborou holding a 2-1 edge in that series.

The best the Patriots can hope for with the Jets' first draft pick next year (completing the deal for Parcells) seems to be 24th overall, and it could go as low as 28th. Minnesota, Denver, and Atlanta will have the bottom three picks unless someone from outside this group wins the Super Bowl.

With the European and International teams beating the United States so easily in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup the past two years, why don't those two squads play each other for world supremacy? How about this: The International team challenges the winner of the Ryder Cup in Brookline in September and plays for the world title the following week at The Country Club?

All content herein is Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company and may not be republished without permission. If you have questions or comments about the archives, please contact us at any time.


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