Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Lurie once bid on Patriots

The Eagles practice with Patriots at the Gillette Stadium practice fields.  (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Eagles practice with Patriots at the Gillette Stadium practice fields. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Gallery: Eagles practice with Patriots (8/12)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Jeff Lurie spent a gorgeous summer afternoon yesterday watching the NFL team he owns and the one he almost owned hold the first of 3 days of joint practices at the Patriots' practice facility outside Gillette Stadium.

Twenty years ago, the Boston-born-and-bred Lurie was looking to buy a professional sports franchise, and as luck would have it, his hometown team, the Patriots, were on the market.

He ended up getting outbid by Robert Kraft, who purchased the team for a then-record $173 million. Undeterred, Lurie kept looking for a team. Shortly after Kraft bought the Patriots from James Orthwein, Norman Braman put the Eagles up for sale. Lurie topped Kraft's purchase price, paying $185 million for the Eagles.

"I was so excited to try to get an NFL franchise, on the East Coast or the West Coast," Lurie said yesterday. "[It had to be] in a great sports environment. I was very self-limiting. I only wanted [one] where it was a football-passionate, hungry fan base, in a place I wanted to live. Because I wanted to commit myself 100 percent.

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    "I didn't want to, like, live somewhere and own a team somewhere [else]. That was not of interest to me. So it had to be a place where the city was great, like Philly.''

    Lurie was criticized for paying what was considered an exorbitant amount for a football team at the time. But the Eagles currently are worth almost six times what Lurie paid in '94.

    "I jumped on it," he said. "I never actually thought I would be able to acquire them because I always assumed there would be someone in Philly that would probably understand even better than me the value [of owning the Eagles].

    "I always felt I was going to be the underdog, and possibly, because I was not in Philly, I was able to project the future potential [of the franchise]. Maybe you're more objective when you're not living there. I can't explain it. But it worked out great."

    The Patriots have won three Super Bowls in the 20 years Kraft has owned the franchise. The Eagles still are looking for their first Lombardi Trophy. Under any owner.

    But they have been very successful under Lurie, making 12 playoff appearances and winning seven division titles. They've made five NFC Championship Game appearances and one Super Bowl, losing by three points to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.


    Philly Super Bowl update

    Jeff Lurie said the league's owners really haven't had much discussion yet about putting another Super Bowl in a cold-weather city with an open-air stadium. But he said if they decide to do so, he is "ready and willing" to help bring the game to Philadelphia.

    "The New York Super Bowl worked out great," he said. "I think New York was a great host. Leading up to it, it was a lot of fun being there.

    "There's no reason that Philadelphia, with all of its facilities, hotel rooms, venues for big events, couldn't handle it and do a great, great job."

    Lurie has a little bit of pull. He is on the league's Super Bowl selection committee. But he said it's not a high priority for the league at the moment.

    "There's been very little talk about it," he said. "The idea always was to do this occasionally. I think there will be another opportunity to do it occasionally over the years.

    "You've got to get lucky with the weather. On the other hand, my favorite game last year was our Snow Bowl [against Detroit]. I told commissioner [Roger] Goodell that. I said, 'You know, there was a big storm that day. So what? Let's just enjoy it.' "

    Lurie said if the owners decide they want to put another Super Bowl in a cold-weather city, it likely would be "a major market like Philly.''

    "There just has to be a consensus that it's the right time to do it again,'' he said. "There's a lot of retractable dome stadiums now. So there's a long line now of cities that are capable of hosting a Super Bowl. There's an advantage to those kinds of stadiums, obviously, in Minnesota.''

    So, does Philadelphia have a realistic chance of ever hosting a Super Bowl?

    "I honestly don't know,'' Lurie said. "We're always going to put Philly in the best possible light. If it can happen in the NFL, we'll try to win it for Philly.''


    On Twitter: @Pdomo



    PAUL DOMOWITCH Daily News Staff Writer
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