Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Murray Paints Pretty Picture for Hartford

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Murray Paints Pretty Picture for Hartford

Article excerpt

A month ago, it was easy for us to ridicule Fran Murray's plans to buy the New England Patriots and move them to Hartford.

We hadn't met the man.

Now we have. And although Murray hasn't sold us on his plan, he's starting to make some sense.

Are we in danger of being sucked in?

Yes.

Is Fran Murray an engaging guy and one heck of a salesman?

Yes.

Will the Patriots move to Hartford?

Probably not.

Chicken was on the menu at the Holiday Inn luncheon Murray hosted Thursday, but what he was wafting our way was the sizzle and smell of an unseen steak. He was not deterred in the least by the several dozen skeptics seated before him.

"We invite you to allow yourself to be positive," Murray said. "We want you to support the program because it's real."

The "Keep our Patriots in New England" banner affixed to the wall was real. The two TV sets blaring sights and sounds of the National Football League were real. The pretty color map propped on the easel and showing the proposed stadium's proposed site - that was real.

But mainly, the map and the Patriots pennants and the glossy publicity packets were more Murray's invitation to, shall we say, "dream a little dream with me."

Even if Hartford's dream dies, Murray's won't. Murray has all his bases covered.

The 49 percent owner of the Patriots until James B. Orthwein bought him out, Murray has the rights to buy a minority interest in the NFL expansion franchise St. Louis is a lock to be awarded in October. Murray is the guy who got the ball rolling to have St. Louis' new football stadium built.

Murray also is the guy behind the idea of building a megaplex in downtown Boston. That idea is going nowhere, which may partly account for his zeal to build a stadium and move the Patriots here.

While Murray was making his sales pitch at the Holiday Inn, a consulting firm was making a case on his behalf to state officials (Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. wasn't present, but his top aides were).

Murray's argument is that under the state's tax incremental financing law, a stadium can be publicly financed without any cost to the taxpayer - a position subject to much debate. The governor's press secretary, Avice Meehan, said it is possible some tax money might be needed. …

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