FOXBORO, MA -- So this is what a professional football stadium looks like.
As I sat in section 316, row 8, seat 1 (the first row of the section
with the first seat of the aisle) of the new Gillette Stadium, it was hard
to believe that the days of the aluminum benches were finally over.
The dream that was owner Robert Kraft's had loomed behind the old Foxboro
Stadium for too long, and after parking where the old stadium once stood,
here I was in what I can only describe as a first rate facility.
My first ever trip to Foxboro Stadium came against the Indianapolis
Colts back in 1994. I had never been to a professional football stadium
before, and the experience was one that I would never forget. It
was strange. Here was this quiet road which basically appeared to
have had a football stadium dropped into the middle of it. I saw
the flags flying along the top of the stadium, and was blown away at the
mere sight of it.
After entering the stadium I hurried to my seat, anxious to have the
opportunity to watch what went on prior to the game as it was over an hour
before the scheduled kickoff. To my amazement I found myself sitting
next to Mac Bledsoe and the man he claimed taught #11 how to throw a spiral.
A couple of seats down from there sat Ben Coates' brother.
view from the bridge above the south endzone in the brand new Gillette
I was beside myself.
The view was amazing, and though a few people there complained about
the metal benches I had no complaints. I was merely 18-years old
at the time and just thrilled to be there.
It was then that I got my first glimpse of owner Robert Kraft.
I had heard in passing of how he had saved the team from leaving town but
knew little about him or about how much he cared about the fans that filled
his stadium. Little did I know at the time how much of an impact
this man would later have on the team.
New England reached the endzone several times that afternoon en-route
to a victory over the Colts, and after each touchdown Kraft tossed Patriots
hats, T-shirts, and other memorabilia from his owner's box to the happy
I had no idea he was once a season ticked holder and sat on those very
same benches, and you could see in his eyes how much he truly cared about
all these people who filled what at the time appeared to be an amazing
I left that afternoon with a new found passion for the team and for
But after Saturday night's game against the Eagles, I'm not the least
bit sorry it's gone.
Mr. Kraft has outdone himself.
After entering the stadium in the West entrance, we walked down the
stairs to the main concourse right at the base of where the lighthouse
stands. If you walk under the bridge you will find yourself at field
level where you can watch the players work out prior to the game.
If you have seats in the lower levels (sections 100-200) you can stand
there and watch the players come out of the locker room and take the field.
Why can't you stand there if you sit up in the higher levels?
It's simple. You can if you don't mind missing the kickoff.
It's quite a hike to the upper levels of the stadium, and though the ramps
are easy to navigate, even if you're in very good shape it takes a little
bit of effort to walk all the way to the top. Needless to say, season
ticket holders will find themselves in very good shape by the time the
season is over. A few seats away on seat 6 was a grasshopper.
Considering the walk we all endured to get up there, fans around us couldn't
quite figure out how he managed to get all the way up there.
There are so many places to stand to take it all in. I stood on
the bridge next to the lighthouse, as well as on the opposite bridge above
the south endzone. The view is amazing. Despite how high up
you are the field doesn't seem that far away, and if you get hungry the
concessions are extremely accessible. I went down on more than one
occasion, and the lines moved quickly and the staff was extremely courteous.
It was quite a different experience from the days where I found myself
shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of the Foxboro faithful wondering if
I'd ever make it back to my seat.
the stadium is near perfect, there are still slightly obstructed views
in this new state of the art facility.
Speaking of my seat, let me preface by saying I was invited by a friend
to come to the game, and I was simply thankful to be there. However there
may be a few people who find themselves a bit disappointed by the fact
that there are in fact obstructed views in this state of the art facility.
If you sit in the first four seats in the upper sections of the stadium,
you may find that you have to peek through glass in order to see the field.
This was the case where I was sitting, and from what I heard on the ride
home while listening to the post game shows on the radio there were a few
people who had this same dilemma. While it's doubtful that anything
will be done this season, Kraft may have crews looking at this issue after
the season comes to an end. Since only the lower portion of the field
was filled during the soccer games, this may be the first he'll hear of
it. As for myself I didn't mind peeking around the corner as the
players moved up and down the field, but for those who actually have to
deal with it every week, they may have an issue with it.
As for the rest of the building, there was virtually nothing to complain
about. The atmosphere was much more upbeat than the old building,
and the new sound system was light years above and beyond what the previous
stadium had delivered. While it wasn't quite as loud as it should
have been, it will definitely still be quite an experience the first time
they turn it up following a big touchdown by the home team.
He said it was built with the fans in mind, and that's certainly the
feeling I had as I got in my vehicle to return home after the game.
As we drove away I looked back at the lights shining off this amazing
building. Foxboro Stadium is now a distant memory, and despite how
much I enjoyed my first time in his old building, I'm not sorry it's gone.
Thanks again Mr. Kraft. My first time in your new building went
the same as it did the first time I entered the old one.