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Will the NFL's Boston Patriots move to Birmingham?

January 27, 1970
Boston Patriots owner William H. Sullivan, Jr. states that he will move the team unless a suitable stadium is available by March 15, 1970.

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Hugh Morrow III, head of an organization named Birmingham Pro Football, plans to talk with Sullivan about moving the team to Birmingham.

Sullivan is backing a bill that would allow the state of Massachusetts to take Harvard University's stadium over by eminent domain since Harvard refused to lease their stadium to the Patriots.

The upcoming 1970 season will be the first after the merger between the American Football League merged with the National Football League.

The merger also forced a realignment between the combined league's clubs, since there were 16 NFL teams and 10 AFL teams. Three NFL teams were transferred to balance the two new conferences, each with 13 teams. In May 1969, the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to join all ten AFL teams to form the American Football Conference, while the remaining NFL teams formed the National Football Conference. Each conference was divided into three divisions: East, Central, and West. The two Eastern divisions had five teams; the other four divisions had four teams each. The realignment discussions for the NFC were so contentious that the winning plan was allegedly drawn out of a vase containing the five plans by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle's secretary, Thelma Elkjer.

As part of the merger, all 26 teams agreed to have stadiums that would seat 50,000 or more by 1970. The Patriots played last season at Boston College's Alumni Field, which seats 26,000. Harvard Stadium seats 40,000 with additional room for temporary stands. The Patriots also played at Fenway Park and at Boston University.

September 1970

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Before the 1971 season, the Boston Patriots renamed themselves the New England Patriots and will be playing in the newly-built 61,000-seat Shaeffer Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
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