Countdown to the 2016 NHL Winter Classic: 4 Days

“For me, this is a legacy project. This is where I come to work every day. We want to build something special.” — Robert Kraft

When Gillette Stadium was envisioned, Robert Kraft wanted the stadium to be a centerpiece of a year-round destination that Patriots fans and all New Englanders can visit. Ground was broken on March 24, 2000. The 68,000-seat stadium was built at a cost of $325 million, all of the income coming from private funds. Gillette Stadium was modeled after M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Baltimore Ravens. However, Patriots owner Robert Kraft insisted on the stadium having a “front door” with a Disneyland-like entrance. That “front door” would be located in the north end of the stadium. Standing at 130 feet, The Lighthouse and Bridge are the most prominent feature of Gillette Stadium. A coastal seawall was constructed using sculpted rock formations around the base of the Lighthouse to mimic the lighthouses that cover the North Atlantic coast. The bridge next to the lighthouse was designed after the Longfellow Bridge that connected Boston’s Beacon Hill to Kendall Square in Cambridge across the Charles River. It is underneath the bridge the Patriots take to the field to the sounds of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”. The Lighthouse was originally designed to shoot a beam of light 2 miles into the sky, but instead, displays video, and flashes strobe lights as the Patriots take the field, score a touchdown, or win the game.

Gillette Stadium originally had a natural grass playing surface, but in November 2006, a rainstorm pretty much destroyed playing field. Instead of re-sodding the field (which takes a lot of time and cost a lot of money), the Krafts replaced the grass field with FieldTurf during the middle of the season. Installation of the new surface took less than a week to complete. At around the same time, Patriot Place, the shopping center and entertainment complex that surround the stadium grounds was being built. The first phase was built southwest of the stadium, with its signature being a Bass Pro Shops store and nature trail and cranberry bog behind it. Phase Two would be completed two years later, which includes:

  • Renaissance Boston Patriot Place Hotel

  • Showcase Cinema de Lux Patriot Place

  • Showcase Live

  • CBS Scene Restaurant & Bar and WBZ-TV Game Day Studio

  • Splitsville Luxury Lanes

  • Muse Paintbar

  • The Hall at Patriot Place Presented by Raytheon

  • Patriots ProShop

  • Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center

  • TB12 Sports Therapy Center

 

During the 2010 season, the Patriots introduced the Foghorn. When the Patriots defense take the field, the horn is blasted, signaling Pats fans to make noise. During third and fourth down plays by the visiting team, the horn is blasted and the strobe lights inside the lighthouse flash. The foghorn might be familiar to Bruins fans for one reason:

This past season, 2,000 seats were removed from the south end zone to create the Optum Field Lounge. The Lounge is literally the best seat in the Stadium, because, from the outdoor terrace, you’re on the field, feeling you’re a part of the game. Field Lounge memberships are exclusively available to Patriots Season Ticket Holders. For this season, along with their tickets, inaugural Field Lounge members had to pay an extra $3,750  for a three-year membership (with a minimum purchase of two memberships) or an extra $1,500 for a one-year membership (with a minimum purchase of two memberships).

Ever since Gillette Stadium opened, the Patriots have sold out every game they’ve played there. In fact, the Patriots have sold out every game they’ve played in since the streak began on January 2, 1994: the 1993 season finale in which Michael Timpson caught a 36-yard pass from Drew Bledsoe in overtime to beat the Miami Dolphins, 33-27.

When the Patriots held their first regular-season game, a Monday Night Football match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, their Super Bowl XXXVI championship banner was unveiled on the pedestrian bridge at the southwest end of the stadium. So were their next two Super Bowl championship banners. When they won Super Bowl XLIX last season, they had no room to place the fourth Super Bowl championship banner. Had they placed the banner in that area, nearly most of the people who wanted to see the game from that area would have an obstructed view of thew field. During the Patriots’ season opener against those same Steelers, the four Super Bowl championship banners would be placed on top of the scoreboard in the south end zone.

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