Harvard officials yesterday denied reports that the University has agreed to let the Boston Patriots play in Harvard Stadium.
"The Patriots have not talked directly to Harvard University for over a year, although there have been third-party conversations," said Charles P. Whitlock, assistant to the President for Civic and Governmental Relations. Nothing came of the third party talks, he said.
Whitlock's statement was a denial of reports arising from Wednesday's announcement by Patriots President William H. Sullivan, Jr., that the club would play its 1969 season in Boston--but in a stadium other than the club's current home at Fenway Park.
While Sullivan had refused to name the stadium, virtually all observers took it to be Harvard Stadium--the only other park in the Boston area with a capacity for major league football, and one which the Patriots have sought, off and on, for over ten years as a "temporary" home until a new stadium is constructed for them.
Harvard has always refused the requests, arguing, as did the Wilson Committee in its report of last January, that allowing the Patriots to come "temporarily" into Harvard Stadium will only impede progress toward constructing a permanent sports stadium in Boston.
In the past, whenever the Patriots have let it be known that they will leave Boston unless a new stadium is built, local officials and "concerned citizens" have quickly come up with a plan for a new stadium. The plans, however, have always been weak on the financing side--i.e. in determining how the deficit on the stadium will be met--and consequent opposition has always killed them.
The latest proposal--for a stadium in the South Station area, to be financed by receipts from a new toll road and tunnel--is believed to be fiscally more sound than previous plans, and may have a fair chance of being approved by the legislature.
Yesterday, Whitlock and other Harvard officials refused to say whether Harvard would reconsider its stand on a temporary Patriot's home in Harvard Stadium if the legislature adopted a concrete plan for a new stadium, but recent statements by Boston Mayor Kevin White and BRA Director Hale Champion indicate that the University might take a new look at the situation after the legislature has acted.