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The fallout continues from Patriots Owner Robert Kraft's comments in the BOSTON GLOBE on Sunday that he may have to move the team if he doesn't get financial help from the state. On Tuesday, a Senate committee dropped a $35M appropriation for highway improvements in the area of Foxboro Stadium. Sources close to the issue said it was because legislators were "angered by Kraft's complaints about his treatment by the state" (Richard Kindleberger, BOSTON GLOBE, 2/1). Yesterday, Gov. William Weld reiterated his desire to assist Kraft, although he said he never made any specific offers of state help. Weld: "I think we should help him out." But later, Weld said that he hoped that "before we spend a lot of money on keeping the Patriots here, we might want to elicit a commitment from the Patriots to stay in Massachusetts for the next ten years or so." Weld will file legislation within a month "aimed at improving Foxboro Stadium parking and access" (Lehigh & Howe, BOSTON GLOBE, 2/2). Weld said he would be willing to "spend something less" than $100M to have the team stay in Foxboro if plans for a Boston stadium fall through: "With infrastructure support and if [Kraft] got ... the club seats and luxury boxes, I think he could make money in Foxboro" (Robert Connolly, BOSTON HERALD, 2/2). UNPATRIOTIC? Kraft has been the focus of editorials and columns since Sunday. The BOSTON GLOBE'S Dan Shaughnessy writes Kraft "did a good thing" and saved the franchise. "But he overpaid for the team. Now he is coming at us, tin cup in hand, asking for dough to improve his football stadium. It's kind of like me asking my neighbors to bail me out on that mortgage." An editorial in yesterday's GLOBE states: "While the state should finance road improvements at Foxboro Stadium, subsidizing the company that does business there is more troublesome. ... It would be unwise for the state to make deals that solely benefit private sports franchises (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/1). The BOSTON HERALD states that Kraft has "a lot to learn" about dealing with state government, but calls on the state to fund the "needed" road improvements (BOSTON HERALD, 2/2).
L.A. Coliseum commissioners said yesterday the Raiders have not "exercised a contract option to play in the facility next season." According to terms of a deal signed last year "under which the Raiders played rent free," the team had 30 days after its final game to exercise an option to play next season under a new contract. The commissioners reported that Raiders Owner Al Davis has stated that he will not play in the Coliseum next season, and has mentioned Anaheim Stadium, Dodger Stadium or the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as possible alternatives. Last month the Coliseum Commission decided not to extend the option deadline for the team, and said the Raiders "could not count on playing rent free again." Raiders attorney Amy Trask said while the team "did not exercise our option, we are in constant communications with commission representatives and have not foreclosed any possibilities." The commissioners also said it is possible a CFL team could play a 10-game home schedule beginning in June and not interfere with the Raiders or USC schedules (Kenneth Reich, L.A. TIMES, 2/2).
Henry Savelkoul, Chair of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said Wednesday that a Target Center buyout package must be in place by February 13 or the Twin Cities again "could face the loss of the Timberwolves." February 13 is the date the NBA's Board of Governors meets in Phoenix during All-Star weekend. Savelkoul: "My concern is that we have the owners all getting together at the All-Star Game in about 10 days, and if we don't have it done by that time they might say, 'We're going to make a decision.'" Savelkoul did say that no NBA official "had specifically warned him that the NBA had such definitive plans." March 1 is the deadline for team owners to advise the league of intentions to relocate. Wolves and Target Center co-owner Marv Wolfenson said that he and partner Harvey Ratner have not filed a relocation application "nor did they plan to do so." Glen Taylor has an agreement to buy the Wolves, provided the public buyout of the Target Center is completed (Jay Weiner, Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/2).