Patriots Owner Kraft Working To Boost Football's Popularity In Israel
The Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem is the latest attempt by Patriots Owner ROBERT KRAFT to "meld his two passions: American football and Israel," according to Noah Bierman of the BOSTON GLOBE. Kraft for about a decade has been "trying to persuade a Jewish country in love with soccer and basketball to play" football. In five decades, he "has built businesses, charities, and an attachment to the Jewish state that is intimate, if less well known." While his Israeli profile "does not rival his status in New England, Kraft moves freely in Israel’s elite circles." Kraft and his wife, MYRA, who "has spearheaded the family’s charitable efforts in Israel, have longtime business ties and friendships with Israel’s small group of political players." Kraft's Israeli ventures "have paid off." He said that he "sold his packaging company in Caesarea 18 months ago for what he called 'a very handsome return,' though he declined to disclose a figure." Kraft "continues to ship 50,000 to 100,000 tons of paper to the country every year, part of an export business based in New England." He also has "invested in Israeli retail companies, a bread company, and a life sciences company." His "other passion," the American Football in Israel league, was "started by New York-born Israeli STEVE LEIBOWITZ as a flag league in 1989." It got a "big boost when the Krafts spent $250,000 to refurbish an old stadium in Jerusalem" in '99. After the grass field "turned into a sand lot, the Krafts spent another $500,000 on artificial turf." The stadium "was rededicated in 2005" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22).