Finneran offers idea on Patriots stadium
By Tina Cassidy and Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff, March 25, 1999
Meg Vaillancourt of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
With the New England Patriots Hartford stadium deal in limbo, House Speaker
Thomas M. Finneran yesterday said he had some fresh ideas to get a new
facility built in Massachusetts.
Among them: Have the team sell stock to the public to finance a replacement
for Foxboro Stadium.
``Follow the Packers model. That's an option,'' Finneran said, referring to
public ownership of the Green Bay Packers.
In an interview yesterday, the speaker did not alter his fierce opposition
to using tax dollars to finance sports stadiums, a stance that last year
killed a legislative deal to keep the Patriots in Massachusetts. But he did
not shut the door to further talks with Kraft.
``The team and Connecticut apparently have agreed to try and work this out
and if they don't I'm prepared to listen to what they say and perhaps offer
some ideas,'' Finneran said.
The speaker said he understood that Kraft did not want to take on any
partners. But following the Green Bay model of stock ownership, without voting
rights, would not infringe on the Kraft's control, he said.
Moreover, such a stock offering would allow Patriots fans who have been
critical of his stance on this issue to take action to keep the team in
Massachusetts, Finneran added.
A spokesman for the Patriots said that NFL rules prohibit teams from
issuing stock. ``The Green Bay Packers are the lone exception, and they were
grandfathered in years ago,'' the spokesman said.
Finneran has refiled the 1998 legislation to aid the team in renovating
Foxboro Stadium by providing $57 million in infrastructure improvements along
Route 1. That bill, which would not permit the use of public money to build
the stadium itself and which Kraft said was insufficient, was not taken up by
the House last year.
In a good sign for the Boston Red Sox, Finneran said that limits on
infrastructure spending would not necessarily apply to the baseball team in
its quest for a new ballpark.
As for the Patriots, the Mattapan Democrat declined to elaborate on other
prospects, but said any land lease-back deal around the facility -- as called
for in last year's $72 million bill approved by the Senate -- would not be up
The speaker said it would be premature to elaborate while Kraft is still
hoping the proposed Hartford site can be cleared of a steam plant and its
corporate headquarters in time for construction to begin and the team to
relocate from Foxborough by 2002.
But Connecticut officials are grappling with the site issue. So far,
negotiations between the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority and CTG
Resources Inc., which owns the steam plant, have been fruitless. Another
option has been for CTG to sell its business to Northeast Utilities, obviating
the need for the headquarters.