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New England Patriots Kick Off Construction on $325M Stadium

Wed May 10, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Walt Heithaus

With site preparation for the New England Patriots new $325-million football stadium getting under way in May, and construction set to begin this summer, the 68,000-seat facility will host its first football game in the fall of 2002.

The privately financed stadium will cost Patriots owner Robert Kraft 30 percent more than the $250 million he predicted it would cost a year ago.

“We could have done it for $250 million,” said Team Vice President Jonathan Kraft, the oldest son of the owner, “but we decided to create the greatest possible stadium for our fans.”

The new stadium, which is being built on land already owned by the Kraft family, was designed by HOK Architectural Design, one of the leading sports facility designers in the country. HOK designed Camden Yards and PSI Net Stadium (Baltimore), Ericsson Stadium (Charlotte), and the new Cleveland Browns Stadium.

The new stadium will be built by Beacon/Skanska, one of the world’s largest construction companies, and Barton Malow, also a builder of premiere sports stadiums. In Boston, Beacon/Skanska built Rowes Wharf and One Post Office Square; Olympic Stadium and Turner Field (Atlanta); and Adelphia Stadium (Nashville). Barton Malow, which built stadiums in Baltimore and Denver, also will handle the infrastructure portion of the project.

Architectural renderings for the new stadium were unveiled to the media on April 18.

The centerpiece of the new stadium will be a lighthouse and footbridge. The Kraft family wanted to include an architectural element in the new stadium that is representative of New England.

“Lighthouses have lined this region’s coast for nearly 300 years and have provided guidance to travelers to this area,” Jonathan Kraft said. The lighthouse “was the perfect choice to complete the signature view into this beautiful new stadium.”

The younger Kraft said the first use of the lighthouse, which will shoot a cannon of light into the sky several miles high, will be for the team’s first “Monday Night Football” game.

He said his family has been considering the stadium project since buying the property in the mid-1980s; Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994.

By the end of the 2000-2001 football season, the stadium’s skeletal structure will be completed. Interior construction and work on the playing field will begin next winter and is expected to be ready for the opener of the New England Revolution soccer team in spring of 2002.

The new Patriots’ facility will include individual seats throughout (as opposed to bleachers in many areas of the current stadium), fully distributed stadium sound and 1,000 additional TV monitors.

The new stadium will also have 80 luxury suites, 11,148 square meters (120,000 sq. ft.) of club-lounge space to be used year-round, and three times as many concession areas (350) and restrooms (60) as the current stadium.

The Patriots attributed the stadium price increase to their own push for a state-of-the-art facility, including curving the sidelines so 85 percent of the seats are angled toward the 50-yard line. The younger Kraft said there are very few end-zone seats.

No public funds are being invested in the Patriots’ new stadium. The Patriots will pay the Commonwealth of Massachusetts $1.4 million a year for 25 years in exchange for $70 million in state-funded road, utility and parking improvements in and around the new stadium.

The infrastructure package will include 3,000 additional parking spaces, a new access road along Route 1, and pedestrian tunnels to alleviate congestion. The road improvements should cut the departure time to an hour from the current two hours on typical game days.

The Patriots have ruled out selling private seat licenses. In keeping with the trend in professional sports, the team will sell naming rights to the stadium to help recoup their investment.

“We have to name the stadium; that’s part of our financing package and part of being able to build the stadium privately,” said Kraft. “We don’t want to put a time-frame on selling naming rights.”

The new stadium will replace Foxboro Stadium, built in 1971 at a cost of $6 million. The new site will contain three practice fields and include “plenty of space” for expansion, Kraft said, without specifying what form it will take.

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