A Common Pleas Court judge just ruled that the city owes the Philadelphia Eagles $5 million for a 2001 preseason game at Veteran's Stadium that was canceled due to problems with the playing surface.  Senior Judge Albert Sheppard Jr. ruled last week that the Eagles owe the city $8 million in revenue from skyboxes in the 2000 and 2001 seasons at the former stadium.  That means the long dispute, which resulted in dueling lawsuits in 2004, has been settled with the city to receive $3 million from the team.

"I'm definitely pleased that the matter has concluded," said Mayor Nutter, calling the whole matter "unfortunate" while praising the team as a great corporate citizen.  The case turned nasty in March when the Eagles went to court, claiming they had a previously undisclosed deal with then-Mayor John Street to settle the dispute for less than $1 million.  The team had said the missed preseason game cost the team $8 million, the exact amount the city said it was owed for the skyboxes. Street denied that he had approved a secret deal, saying he would have demanded it be put in writing if that had happened.

The city and the team started negotiating a deal after that dust-up.  An attorney for the Eagles last week said the team expected Sheppard to rule this week that the city owed the Eagles between $5 million and $8 million, based on the recent negotiations.  "The judge has determined that it is fair," Nutter said when asked what he thought of the settlement. "I'm satisfied with that.  The matter is over."

In the March court filing, the Eagles said they had hoped a quiet deal with Street's administration would help the team avoid "negative publicity" from the dispute.  That didn't happen.  Eagles spokeswoman Pamela Browner Crawley this morning said the team is glad to be done with the court battle.  "While it wasn't the easiest decision to make, we wanted to come to a conclusion," Crawley said. "So this is exactly where we wanted to be."