The letter was like a Dear John note left on the kitchen table. The house suddenly seemed very quiet. Where were the New England Patriots? Where was their owner, Bob Kraft? The letter from Kraft tried to explain. � "As you know, the New England Patriots have announced an agreement with the State of Connecticut to build a new stadium in Hartford and begin playing there in 2001," read the letter, which ran as a full-page advertisement in the Sunday editions of both Boston papers. "This plan...provides an exciting opportunity for the Patriots and our loyal fans."
"It's difficult to express how grateful I am to our season ticket holders," the letter said. "We have always made decisions with your interests in mind and this decision was no exception."
The letter detailed the various failed attempts at building a stadium in the Boston area during the Patriots' 38-year history. The letter talked about modem-day sports economics, about player salaries and chair-back seats and luxury boxes. The letter tried to make Hartford, the capital of another state, 100 miles away, seem as if it were a Boston suburb.
No mention was made of the windfall, the fortune, that Kraft will receive in his new, publicly funded $350 million stadium, his stately pleasure dome on the banks of the Connecticut River. No mention was made of the tax-free benefits or of the potential revenue from the hotel tower and the amusement complex. No explanation was given as to how—exactly how—the loyal fans, the season-ticket holders, the ones who had surrendered their Sunday afternoons for decades, who had sat in abysmal seats in abysmal conditions, were supposed to pack up that loyalty in the family four-wheel drive and just change direction.
Take it. Leave it. The deal was done, no matter what.
The past, for Kraft, was an escapable hell filled with Massachusetts politicians who just didn't listen, who didn't take the rubber bands off the fat public wallet fast enough. The future was certain paradise. Too bad for the bystanders. Too bad.
This is 1998. This is professional sports. There always is another yellow brick road to another Emerald City. Business is business. The people in Cleveland, in Houston, in Los Angeles, in St. Louis know. Now the people in Boston know.
"I am grateful for the loyalty you have shown to the Patriots," the letter concluded. "Now we can finally devote our undivided attention to trying to bring a championship to New England."