The New England Patriots today announced that the team has terminated its agreement with the State of Connecticut under which the state would have financed construction of a 68,000 seat football stadium in downtown Hartford.
Under terms of an agreement reached earlier this year, the Patriots had the right to terminate the pact by May 2 if it was in doubt that the state would be able to open the stadium in time for the beginning of the 2002 season.
After placing a call to Connecticut Gov. John Rowland late this afternoon, Patriots owner Robert Kraft sent the governor a letter in which he stated the following:
"We know that you and your staff have worked tirelessly to put this deal together, but clearly, the scope of this project was a mountainous undertaking and much more complex than anyone anticipated when our discussions originally began. We know that you have exhausted every effort to meet the deadlines that have been within your control, but it has become clear to us that the goal of playing in a new stadium in Hartford by the year 2002 has a significant degree of uncertainty. When we originally announced our intentions to play in Hartford, we discussed a 2001 kickoff, but as I write this letter, the most probable kickoff in Hartford is now 2003, five seasons from now."
In making the announcement of the termination of the stadium agreement Kraft said, "We owe a great debt of gratitude to Gov. Rowland and his staff, the Connecticut General Assembly and its leadership, the state Office of Policy and Management and the state's business and community leaders who worked so hard in this effort to help the Patriots remain a competitive franchise in New England."