With Harvard and the City Council both turning the Patriots away in quick succession, though, they were forced to go begging further afield. Various cities in other parts of the country were anxious to receive them, as was New Hampshire. The lucky suitor, however, was Foxboro, a town of 14,000 in southern Massachusetts near Providence.
Foxboro is 35 miles from Boston, the home of a state mental hospital and a trotting track. The latter, it is said, attracted the Patriots and encouraged the citizens to vote approval for a 60,000-seat stadium to be built on the track parking lot. It will not be ready until 1971, but last week Harvard finally relented and agreed to permit the Patriots the use of their stadium this coming season.
With the Patriots' departure for Foxboro goes the one fond excuse for a Boston municipal stadium. Sullivan, who has always been a stumbling block in the matter, is also removed, but the issue is really much the same as ever.
All these parochial concerns aside, however, there may be one underlying reason why the people of Boston have not seen fit to commit millions of dollars for the construction of a stadium that would be used by a profit-making professional football team seven times a year. That reason is, of course, that the idea is ridiculous.
Shortly before Veeck's Neponset plan was voted down, Mayor White was explaining all the usual reasons why he was for a stadium. Suddenly he stopped and stared out the window toward the harbor. "It's a funny thing," he said at last.
"It's just a funny thing. I want to say this right."
What is it?
"Well, I may be wrong, but the more I back this, the more I get involved in this, the more I would say that I'm not really sure how much support there is for a stadium."
He smiled at last, shyly; it was his own ironic little secret. Mayor White is not alone, however, in this revelation. Suddenly, people everywhere are becoming suspicious about stadiums. Do they really bring in $X million a year from out-of-town fans? And, O.K., who gets it besides the ball club, a few hotels and bars?