SBD/March 26, 2012/Facilities

Kraft Arguing With Foxborough Gov't Over Control Of Billboards Near Gillette Stadium

Town manager said Kraft's proposed casino is "without a doubt" the elephant in the room
A disagreement over who controls a pair of billboards near Gillette Stadium is "part of a bitter dispute that has damaged the 27-year relationship between the town’s government and its largest taxpayer, The Kraft Group," according to Mark Arsenault of the BOSTON GLOBE. The breakdown in relations comes as Patriots Owner Bob Kraft is "asking Foxborough to consider the most controversial and far-reaching economic development proposal in its history," a $1B resort casino. The Kraft Group "insists the billboards are on its land," while Foxborough officials "say an easement gives the town control." The town is "threatening to settle the dispute by taking the billboards by eminent domain, which the company warns would be 'a dangerous position' for the town." Foxborough Board of Selectmen Chair Larry Harrington said, "Unfortunately, what I see is the relationship with the Krafts getting worse and worse. It’s like the Hatfields and McCoys right now." The dispute has "spilled into town politics, setting town officials against each other at a moment when Foxborough is most in need of leadership." Town Manager Kevin Paicos said, "That casino is the elephant in the room, without a doubt." The Krafts "presented their side of the billboard dispute over the weekend in a mailing sent to thousands of households." It "accused 'some town leaders' of damaging the relationship with the threat of land takings." More than 25 years after Kraft secured an option on land surrounding the old Foxborough Stadium, the relationship between Kraft and local government is "seen two ways by local officials." Some focus on what they view as Kraft’s "hard-nosed negotiating tactics over development and other issues, revealed in recently released minutes from closed meetings of the Board of Selectmen." Paicos said, "If you allow yourself to be supplicant, this is how they will treat you." Others "choose to focus on the roughly" $5M a year The Kraft Group pays in "local taxes, fees, and other mitigation, after replacing what was the NFL’s worst stadium with one of the best, and then adding a hotel, movie theater, and mall" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/26).
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