New England Patriots nearly became the St. Louis Stallions

Stacey James, Patriots

In an earlier item regarding the 26th anniversary of the purchase of the Patriots by Robert Kraft, it was mentioned that the Patriots may have left Boston but for their acquisition by Kraft. Some have expressed surprise and/or disbelief regarding that assertion, but it’s true.

James Orthwein, a St. Louis native, bought the Patriots from Victor Kiam in 1992 with the intent of moving the team to St. Louis, where the Patriots would have become the Stallions. As illustrated by the attached photo, the wheels already were in motion for the change to be made.

But there was a problem. The Patriots had a lease at Foxboro Stadium that ran through 2001, and the owner of the stadium (Robert Kraft) refused to let the Patriots out.

“People have offered me all sorts of money for the lease,” Kraft said at the time. “But I let it be known that I wouldn’t sell at any price.”

With Orthwein blocked from moving and unwilling to hold the team through the expiration of the lease, he sold the team to Kraft.

“I’m not going to be the most popular man [in St. Louis],” Orthwein said at the time. “I’m going to still do the best I can for my hometown to help them get a team. As far as owning a team, I’m done with that.”

St. Louis got their team a year later, luring the Rams from L.A. And they held their team until 2016, when the Rams returned to Los Angeles.

If the Patriots had become the Stallions, the Rams would have had to find a new home, with Boston or Baltimore the biggest possibilities. A move to Baltimore could have kept the Browns from becoming the Ravens, which would have forced Art Modell to come up with some other plan for the Browns.

At some point, Boston likely would have gotten a team again. But it wouldn’t have been the Patriots, at least not Bob Kraft’s Patriots.

So, yes, things could have gotten very interesting if Kraft hadn’t been able to block the Patriots from moving to St. Louis and becoming the Stallions. However it would have played out, it’s safe to say that Boston wouldn’t have had six parades in the 26 years since Kraft acquired title to the team that has won more Super Bowl titles than any team except the Steelers.

45 responses to “New England Patriots nearly became the St. Louis Stallions

  1. And from that day forward, 26+ years ago, the ne’re do well Patriots became the winningest franchise in the NFL. Kraft, like Brady and Belichick, are Boston/New England Mount Rushmore and will always have the eternal love and appreciation of the fanbase.

  2. Woulda shoulda coulda. Nothing to see all these years later since it never happened in the first place

  3. I wish whomever owns PBS would force the Bengals hand in selling. Oh wait, Mike Brown owns Paul Brown Stadium….it’s just the tax payers of Hamilton County that paid for it. And still are…

  4. I almost got some action once from this hot chick I was eyeing at a bar, and then her boyfriend came back from wherever he had gone and left with her. Boy if he hadn’t come back there’s no telling where I’d be right now. At home with her and our six kids and my beat up 2002 Toyota Camry in the driveway. Instead I’m still single with my 2018 Dodge Demon out in my garage living the good life…Ahh what could have been

  5. Who knows – this might have made the franchise over these past 26 years one of integrity, following the rules, and approaching the game with humility. But then again, it is not up to us to make them honest; they CHOOSE to CHEAT.

  6. Victor Kiam. I can still see him selling electric razors in a cheap TV commercial. I was kind of surprised when I found out he owned the Patriots. They were bad. I don’t think he cared. Shows you the difference between a good owner and a bad one.

    Yeah, I Know, Brady, BB etc. Still…Anyone who rooted for them then were true fans. Giants were just as bad for 25 years, so I know the feeling…

  7. Built the stadium with his own money when nobody was doing that. You would have to see Sullivan Stadium to believe they played any games above high school level there.

  8. The Rams would not have moved to Baltimore, Boston, or anywhere else if they couldn’t move to St. Louis. Upon inheriting the team from her late husband, Georgia Frontiere moved the Rams to her hometown. If St. Louis hasn’t been open, there would have been no reason to move and she’d have kept the team in LA.

  9. And don’t forget when the expansion decision was made the St. Louis Stallions and Baltimore Bombers swag was ready to go, only the NFL decided on Charlotte and Jacksonville instead. And also don;t forget the Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article talking about a discussion where the NFL talked about moving the Eagles to Los Angeles and the Bengals to Philadelphia.

  10. vikingsvoice says:
    January 21, 2020 at 7:38 pm
    Sounds like an expansion team.
    ——
    There was a CFL team in Baltimore named the Stallions. Won a Grey Cup I think.

  11. You can actually thank the “Jacksons” for this as well. Billy Sullivan put up Foxboro stadium as collateral to finance the 1984 “Victory” tour of the Jackson. Sullivan lost his shirt. Kraft would buy the stadium (Which really was on it’s last legs and considered worthless) in 1988 when it went into bankruptcy. He had an ironclad lease forcing the Pats to stay through 2001. Kiam had to sell the team due to some bad investments of his own.

    Orthwein wanted to move the team, but Kraft would not let them out of the lease. He offered Kraft $75 mil to buy him out, Kraft refused. by 1994, Orthwein had no interest in owning the team if it was to be located in Boston area long term, and sold to Kraft.

    Kraft has stated he keeps a Victory Tour poster among his mementos as a reminder of what allowed him to realize his longstanding dream of becoming a major league team owne

  12. Just an epic story, really. Season ticket holder buys team, invests in it, doesn’t meddle, and then trades for BB realizing attaching a dollar sign to the right positions at the right time, while drafting for depth, would be as critical as any hire in the Cap Era. 20 years later, as BB is set to wisely move on from a potentially overpaid Brady at 43, nothing has changed.

  13. NE never became a St Louis team, but Belicheat and his toadies sure spied on a St Louis team.

  14. I bet Patrick Chung is pretty happy. In foxboro he does what he wants like a crap load of cocaine and no problems when busted. Down there I doubt the police department isn’t as corrupted as the ones near foxboro.

  15. TimTebowGodOfFootballKarma says:
    January 21, 2020 at 8:00 pm
    NE never became a St Louis team, but Belicheat and his toadies sure spied on a St Louis team.

    4 6 Rate This

    ————

    Are you low Marshall Faulk?

  16. descendency says:
    January 21, 2020 at 8:09 pm
    How is no one mentioning how that would have been the worst name in all of pro sports? The Stallions? That’s a huge downgrade from Patriots.

    1 1 Rate This
    ———————-

    The 90s were littered with bad team
    names, logos and color combos. Look at the Broncos and Ravens for example. They look like awful Arena League unis.

    So forced.

  17. Camstinks claims to be single and rich on this article, yet on the article where some guy bet $684 thousand, he says he bet way more than he could afford and will be in the doghouse if the niners lose. So which is it?

  18. For Kraft it was a matter of right place, right time. As fishfan77 pointed out, the Jackson 5 reunion tour gave him the opportunity to buy the stadium, and that set the wheels in motion. Equally as important though was that Kraft was willing to invest in a new stadium in Foxborough– a concept which still isn’t followed by most ownership groups even today. For decades there was talk of a new publicly financed stadium in Boston (some plans even called for a dome to share with the Red Sox), but thanks to the inept (and often crooked) nature of the folks at city hall and the MA State House, those ideas never materialized. Luckily Kraft was willing to put up his own $ (albeit after a brief flirtation with Hartford) to get it done. And the Patriots and Red Sox are both better off because of it.

  19. 1steelersfan says:
    January 21, 2020 at 8:19 pm
    The most crooked franchise of all time.

    —————————-

    Says a fan of a team that won its first 4 Super Bowls through the use of steroids….

  20. Note: it wasn’t just a “brief flirtation” with Hartford – Kraft signed an agreement to move the team into a new stadium in downtown Hartford on the Connecticut River. There was even a public signing ceremony with the Governor of Connecticut John Rowland. He made a promise – and reneged. Those are the facts.

    Kraft does deserve some credit for using his own money to (partially) fund Gillette, but he also got a lot of help from MA taxpayers…and in order to get his way with Boston, he lied to and manipulated the citizens of Connecticut. And make no mistake, for several years he was justly reviled for it.

    Winning cures a lot of things – and it seems to have caused most people to forget his duplicity Hartford – a city that was down on its luck (still is) and hurting from the loss of the Whalers…Kraft played on those emotions and then signed a deal to come to Hartford in a big public ceremony with the cameras rolling…but when he got a better deal from MA, he ditched Hartford at the altar….very shady stuff.

    It’s one thing for one businessman to con another, but it’s quite another matter when the victims of duplicity are honest citizens and fans.

    Kraft got lucky with Belichick (who drafted Brady) – just like he got lucky with the “Victory Tour” Also – Kraft inherited Parcells from Orthwein…and without Parcells, Kraft never meets Bill Belichick.

    Kraft’s legacy is more complicated than most people realize, or want to admit.

  21. And don’t forget when the expansion decision was made the St. Louis Stallions and Baltimore Bombers swag was ready to go, only the NFL decided on Charlotte and Jacksonville instead. And also don;t forget the Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article talking about a discussion where the NFL talked about moving the Eagles to Los Angeles and the Bengals to Philadelphia.
    ——————————————————————————————————-
    Had that all played out you can bet the name “Bombers” would have been changed years ago.

  22. Tednancy…just to set the record straight…Kraft paid for the stadium. State paid for a few road alterations of route 1 access/egress. Fans paid NO PSLs. Nothing shady…

  23. As a steelers fan, I’ve heard positive things about Robert Kraft since 1997. This story adds to that.

  24. tb12greatest says:
    January 21, 2020 at 7:25 pm
    Greatest NFL franchise of all time…

    =================================
    Maybe of the past 20 years…

  25. Kraft got lucky with Belichick (who drafted Brady)
    ——————————————————————————————
    He wanted BB so badly that he gave up picks in order to get the right to hire him.

    Where’s the luck in that?

  26. My favorite Patriots moment was at the start of the super bowl against the St. Louis Rams when they came out as a team. It was especially great given what the country had gone through on September 11th.

    Rush Limbaugh scoffed that it was anti-American because great individual players should not subordinate themselves in such a way. He couldn’t have been more wrong.

  27. There was no decision made to rename the Patriots the Stallions. The Stallions would have been the name had the expansion effort not failed. Kroenke was the money man behind the Stallions, but he couldn’t get a hold of the Dome lease in STL from Jerry Clinton. The NFL didn’t want to deal with any litigation, so they gave the franchise to Jacksonville. Then the bid for the Rams began. NFL properties and Jerry Clinton came up with the Stallions name, colors and logo (which was subsequently taken and used by the Broncos)

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