SBJ/February 8 - 14, 1999/No Topic Name

Patriots vow to call Adriaen home

Connecticut lawmakers have wrangled for weeks with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft over the fine print in a 200-page agreement to build a stadium at Adriaen's Landing in downtown Hartford, but Pats officials insist that no other sites are acceptable.

The project calls for taxpayers to build Kraft a 68,000-seat stadium with 150 luxury suites and 6,000 club suites as part of Hartford's massive $1 billion downtown development plan called Adriaen's Landing. The deal calls for the state to pay for the stadium with a 10 percent ticket tax while Kraft keeps all stadium revenue. In return, Kraft will invest up to $70 million toward a $125 million hotel development there.

The Adriaen's Landing site was put on a fast track by lawmakers last November and was approved by legislators in December. But the legislation does not name a specific stadium location, and the major obstacle is the relocation of a steam plant that sits on the stadium site.

Although Patriots officials and lawmakers had targeted mid-January to complete the deal, both sides agreed to extend the deadline until last Friday after talks stalled over relocating the steam plant. Though no deal has been reached to move the steam plant, Patriots officials say that Adriaen's Landing is the only option.

"We are 100 percent focused on the site in question," said Andy Wasynczuk, vice president of business operations for the Patriots. "It has got some unique aspects being in a downtown area, and there is too much to suggest that it is easily replicable."

The relocation of the steam plant still isn't settled, but team officials said they are confident that a deal will be brokered. While the Patriots are eager to move out of outdated Foxboro Stadium, which has only 42 luxury suites, by 2001, it's becoming more apparent that the team may have to wait until 2002.

"We've said that we'd push for 2001, but 2002 is more realistic," said Patriots attorney Jay Malcynsky. "But that's not to say we can't make it sooner. This is just an astronomical undertaking. It is something we'll have to live with for 30 years. The steam plant is an issue, but we don't feel that we are in a position to be concerned that it won't be solved."

Though the Patriots remain confident about signing the deal, they are also expecting that stadium opponents will sue to stop the deal.

"There is always the threat of a lawsuit no matter what type of deal it is, and we don't feel that there are legitimate grounds to challenge the process in a way that will add delay," Malcynsky said.

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