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Patriots' stadium cost up 30% to $325M, Red Sox see no omen for Fenway

By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 04/19/00

As they unveiled the design for their new stadium yesterday, the New England Patriots promised football fans a "pleasure palace" with individual molded plastic seats, expanded concessions and meeting areas, and triple the number of restrooms.

In Foxborough, a state-of-the-art football facility. F1.

But along with the amenities came sticker shock:

It will cost team owner Robert Kraft $325 million to build the privately financed stadium in Foxborough - a 30 percent price increase over the $250 million the Patriots had predicted just a year ago.

Yesterday, critics of the Red Sox's proposed new $600 million ballpark project tried to use the Patriots as ammunition in the battle against a new Fenway Park, arguing that a comparable increase would raise the price of the Red Sox project to more than $800 million.

"And that's a real low-ball figure, based on boondoggles of the Big Dig and the new Boston convention center," said Peter Catalano of Fenway Action Coalition, a leading opponent of the Red Sox plan. The Patriots, however, dismissed the analogy, saying it's "comparing apples to oranges."

The Sox said they have already taken into account escalating construction costs and interest rates.

The project will include a new ballpark, two parking garages, major infrastructure improvements, and the acquistion of 14 acres adjacent to 89-year-old Fenway Park.

Nonetheless, Red Sox officials said the Patriots' experience was instructive on one point: the high cost of delay. "We've said all along that time is not our friend," said spokeswoman Kathryn St. John. "That's why we're working so hard to get it approved before the Legislature adjourns this year, so we can avoid the kind of delays that the Patriots faced and thus escalated their costs."

No public funds are being invested in the Patriots' new stadium. The Patriots will pay the state $1.4 million a year for 25 years in exchange for $70 million in state-funded road, utility and parking improvements in and around the new stadium.

The Patriots have ruled out selling private seat licenses, but they plan to sell stadium naming rights to help recoup their investment.

In a bow to the their fans' devotion to Fenway Park, the Red Sox have said they do not want to sell naming rights or impose seat licensing on ticket holders. But as the trust that controls the Red Sox seeks to secure sufficient private financing, many sports financing experts believe the Red Sox may be forced to adopt such measures.

The Patriots attributed the stadium price increase in Foxborough to their own push for a state-of-the-art facility, including curving the sidelines so every seat is angled toward the 50-yard line.

"We could have done it $250 million, but we decided to create the greatest possible stadium for our fans," said vice president Jonathan Kraft. "No one should compare the Patriots stadium with the Red Sox ballpark, because we're building in the suburbs on land we already own. But we wholeheartedly support the Red Sox quest for a new home, because after our long struggle, we understand how important it is to the team."

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