The scrimmage between City Hall and the Philadelphia Eagles dragged on longer than a Super Bowl pregame show. But the dispute that consumed so much time and energy - and breathless calls to 610 WIP - has mercifully come to an end.

The upshot after the second ruling from a judge yesterday: 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 on dueling lawsuits over skybox revenues and compensation for the cancellation of a 2001 preseason game due to poor field conditions at city-owned Veterans Stadium. (While the Vet is long demolished, the legal dispute 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.

Sheppard then flagged the city for $5 million for the lost revenue from the canceled contest. That means the Eagles owe the city 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 the organization saved.