INQUIRER: Former Mayor John F. Street said yesterday that he had struck no agreement with the Eagles to substantially reduce the team’s $8 million debt to the city during private negotiations years ago that led to the building of Lincoln Financial Field. “I didn’t cut a secret deal. There was no deal. We didn’t make a deal. . . . And if I had agreed to a deal, I would have put it in writing,” Street said last night during a rare City Hall appearance. “The one thing I did commit to,” he continued, “is we would absolutely make a reasonable effort to come to a fair settlement and hopefully without litigation. It didn’t happen.”
Street’s comments contradict the sworn statements of Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and team president Joe Banner. Both said in March 18 affidavits that on the last day of the stadium negotiations, when he was mayor, Street orally agreed to settle a dispute concerning skybox revenue for less than $1 million. Dean Adler, the city’s representative during the December 2000 negotiations, also attested in the March 18 affidavits that a pact had been made. “We believe everyone present at the final settlement negotiations was in agreement that there was a settlement. Legally, that agreement is binding,” Tom Leonard, a lawyer for the Eagles, said yesterday. He added that he would try to prove as much in court.
The long-running controversy stems from a 1985 amendment to the Eagles’ lease of Veterans Stadium, the city-owned sports arena that Lincoln Financial Field would replace. Under the lease change, the city was to begin collecting revenue from the skyboxes in the 2001 season. A dispute soon emerged over how much the team owed the city for the 2001 and 2002 seasons. In 2004, while Street was still mayor, the city sued.Soon after, the Eagles countersued, arguing that the city owed the team money for revenue lost from the cancellation of a 2001 preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens due to turf problems at the Vet. The amount in question: $8 million. MORE
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