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.