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Costly delay of game for Eagles, city

The city and the Philadelphia Eagles squandered time, money and public goodwill with their warring legal claims, now finally settled.

The spat between City Hall and the Philadelphia Eagles dragged on longer than a Super Bowl pre-game show. But finally this silly dispute that consumed so much time and energy - and breathless calls to 610WIP - has come to an end.

The upshot after the second ruling from a judge today: the Eagles owe the city $3 million.

That's about how much Donovan McNabb will make in the first few weeks of the season.

While the payout is a pittance, the bigger cost is the time, money, public goodwill and legal fees that both the city and Eagles spent tangled up in their dueling lawsuits over skybox revenues and compensation for the cancellation of a 2001 preseason game due to poor field conditions at city-owned Veteran's Stadium. (The Vet is long-demolished while the legal dispute has dragged on for much of the decade.)

Senior Judge Albert Sheppard Jr. played referee, ruling last week that the Eagles owe the city $8 million in skybox revenue dated to the 2000 and 2001 seasons at the Vet. The Eagles had been withholding payment, pending a resolution of their counter-claim over the money lost from the cancelled game. Today, Sheppard flagged the city for $5 million on the cancelled game, meaning the Eagles owe City Hall the $3 million difference.

Good to see both sides making nice after the final ruling.

Mayor Nutter said he was "pleased that this matter has finally been concluded" and that he looked forward to continued cooperation "with the Eagles as partners in the community to improve the lives of Philadelphians in neighborhoods across this city." Oh, and he wished them luck next season.

Similar expressions of relief came from Eagles spokeswoman Pamela Browner Crawley, who noted, "While it wasn't the easiest decision to make, we wanted to come to a conclusion. So this is exactly where we wanted to be."

Where both sides should have been long ago was at a conference table, hammering out a settlement. Instead, the city will get only a partial payment for its skyboxes – and the Eagles have to be left wondering whether the bad publicity was worth the few million bucks they saved.