Two Massachusetts legislators have introduced a bill which would have the state use its power of eminent domain to take over Harvard Stadium for use by the Boston Patriots Football team.
Under the bill, the state would buy the Stadium from Harvard with a $10 to $20 million bond issue, and then pay off the bonds with the revenues provided by the Patriots' rental of the facility.
Harvard would still be able to use the stadium for its "traditional Ivy League games," the bill's sponsors said. The University would receive a 99-year lease for these purposes.
The bill is likely to be opposed by the University, which is not willing to have its use of the stadium limited by the state. Administration sources said yesterday.
Tuesday's filing of this bill marked a major new twist in the ten-year battle over the stadium. Ever since the Patriots were established, they have unsuccessfully attempted to have the state build them a new stadium, or to have Harvard Stadium opened for their use.
Unless the Patriots receive a 50,000-seat stadium for next season, the American Football League will not permit them to remain in Boston. Currently the team plays in Boston College's small Alumni Field.
The bill's sponsors-Rep. Timothy W. Hickey (D-Camb.) and Sen. Robert L. Cawley (D-Bos.)-claimed their proposal would provide a satisfactory solution to the stadium problem. Noting that upkeep of the stadium is costly, they said. "This will relieve the University from this continuous financial expense."
State ownership of the stadium would also permit its rehabilitation and expanded use by for example, high school teams and the Rev. Billy Graham. they said. There is no legal barrier to having the state take the stadium by eminent domain. they added.
Harvard's legislative observers yesterday said they were afraid that the bill might prove attractive to legislatorswearied by the annual battle over the stadium. "We're in a pickle. We either have to work out a satisfactory solution or we may find ourselves with a solution imposed by the state in which we have very little say," one administrator commented.
During the past month, a six-man legislative commission has discussed the stadium question with President Pusey, but both sides have refused to comment on the outcome of the meeting.
This week, a high Administration source indicated that Harvard might reconsider its previous refusals to let the Patriots play in the Stadium, but added that the University first wanted some questions answered. The questions include:
Could the Patriots themselves finance a new stadium by, for example, paying for it out of their revenues from television rights?
What kinds of problems-traffic, crowds, etc.-is the Patriots' presence in the stadium likely to cause for the surrounding neighborhood? How does the neighborhood feel about this?
Can either Fenway Park or Alumni Field be expanded to accommodate the Patriots?
How deeply would the Patriots cut into present Harvard use of the stadium and the surrounding athletic facilities?
How well have arrangements for professional use of a university's football stadium worked out in other cities?