Patriots fans and players finally get dream palace
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If fans do miss the Pats' old home, they miss the structure for the memories it represents especially last year's unforgettable "Snow Bowl." That's when a sell-out crowd of 60,000 squished and squeezed into the stadium and prayed that the Pats would plow through the white stuff to win the championship game against the Oakland Raiders, and go on to their first Super Bowl win. Their prayers were answered.Skip to next paragraph
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But a sparkling new stadium also means that fans must shell out more cash. Satellite parking lots (those not owned by the New England Patriots) are charging an average of $40 per car. "Taxachusetts" has levied an excise tax of $400,000 annually on these parking-lot owners to cover road improvements. Once inside, a trip to the ATM may be needed for food: Expect to pay $9 for a double Quarter Pounder, fries, and a soda at McDonald's.
Pats tickets, which are all sold out, are among the highest in the league averaging $73 each. There is a waiting list of 50,000 fans for season tickets. If you enjoy the "suite" life, you can watch the game from a leather armchair in one of 80 luxury suites. Football stadiums typically aren't moneymakers; that's why Kraft is aiming for year-round revenue. The luxury suites can be used by members year-round, from birthday parties to weddings.
Despite the high costs, fans and sports observers seem to have only the highest respect for the Kraft family. Mr. Kraft privately financed the stadium at $325 million (almost unheard of in the NFL). He received $70 million from the state to spend on infrastructure, including new parking lots and access roads. Kraft and his family have attended Pats games from the start.
Jonathan Kraft said recently that he remembers going to the games with his father. "My family sat in traffic with everybody else. We were sitting on those metal benches. We couldn't get food. We had lived [the bad old days]."
Foxboro, Mass., may be home to a high-profile NFL team, but it also prides itself on a small-town feel. "I've lived in Foxboro since I was 3 years old," says Michael Schuster, 1999 Patriots fan of the year, who helped educate people in Foxboro about the Pats new home. He lives a mile away and walks through the woods to get to the stadium. "I've been a die-hard fan since my dad took me to the very first game at Foxboro in 1971. It's the smallest town [16,000 residents] ever for a [big-league] stadium. Coming from Foxboro, I'm so proud."
This sense of pride is shared by hundreds of thousands of Patriots fans across New England. The stadium is more than just cement and steel. It's a symbol of how far the Patriots, now Super Bowl champs, have come since their first game played in Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro more than 30 years ago.
Strong safety Lawyer Milloy, who's played for the Patriots for six years, says the Pats finally feel authentic. "It was kind of hard to realize you were an NFL player until the [pay]checks came because [Foxboro stadium] was so old and raggedy," he says in a postgame locker room interview. "This stadium is first class. I was watching the fans, and they looked like they had a little bit more room. Everybody just looks more comfortable."