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NFL Pays $2.4M To Connecticut

The NFL paid Connecticut $2.4 million Thursday to settle the state's claims over the New England Patriots' aborted move to Hartford.

Gov. John G. Rowland said the money will reimburse the state for the legal and planning costs incurred during negotiations with the football team.

"I made the decision that instead of making up some number and applying something for punitive damages or emotional stress, the best thing to do was to ask for just the reimbursement for the costs we incurred," Rowland said.

Rowland said $2.4 million was the only settlement figure ever proposed to the league.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said pursuing legal action against the NFL or Patriots owner Robert Kraft could have cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars and have a very uncertain outcome."

"I think this brings us closure, and it's a very satisfactory outcome," Blumenthal said.

Rowland agreed.

"As far as I'm concerned, this chapter of all of our lives is concluded," he said.

The settlement comes almost a year after Kraft announced he was pulling out of a deal to move his team from Foxboro, Mass., to the Adriaen's Landing development site in downtown Hartford.

The deal was announced in late 1998. Kraft backed out on April 30, 1999, saying he feared a stadium might not be ready until 2003 because of environmental problems at the site along the Connecticut River.

Soon afterward, the Massachusetts Legislature approved $70 million in state funding for a new Foxboro stadium, leading Connecticut officials to suspect the team was negotiating behind the state's back.

According to Connecticut's contract with the Patriots, the team was not allowed to negotiate with anyone else.

"We knew from Day One that maybe we were being played against other states," Rowland said. "But it was a risk worth taking."

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said Kraft and would not comment on the settlement.

Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, said every team in the league will incur some cost of the settlement, but refused to say how much the Patriots would have to pay.

"The state of Connecticut pursued its stadium proposal fairly and we are pleased that all remaining issues have been resolved," NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "We appreciate the state's participation in the good-faith negotiations that achieved a fair compromise of the interests of all concerned."

©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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