Jan. 11, 1983

The greatest threat to the Patriots’ future in New England took root.

Owner James Orthwein cleaned house for a potential buyer. Fran Murray, who owned 49 percent of the team, led a group to buy out Orthwein.

Murray also belonged to a group headed by Orthwein that sought an NFL expansion franchise. That was hardly coincidental.

At that point, the Pats’ football operation was in tatters, making it comparable to an expansion team.

Ultimately, what seemed like such an easy move ran into a roadblock manned by Robert Kraft. With Pats founder Billy Sullivan in bankruptcy court, Kraft stepped up and bought Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium for $22 million.

It was said by NFL observers that Kraft paid roughly $22 million more than the joint was worth.

A year later, Orthwein offered Kraft $75 million to buy out the lease that kept the Pats in Foxborough through 2001.

Kraft turned him down. Orthwein grew weary of the headaches that came with owning the Patriots and Kraft bought the franchise for $172 million.

It has been estimated to now be worth more than 10 times that.

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