STADIUM DUDE’S NFL STADIUM RANK: #18
- Location: Foxborough, MA
- Opened: 2002
- Capacity: 65,878
- Weather: Uncomfortable (ranked 14th out of 20 outdoor venues)
- Games attended: 1
- Last visited: 2019
No football stadium has enjoyed more sustained success in its history than Gillette Stadium. From 2002 until 2022, the Patriots compiled a regular season record of 134-35, and a playoff mark of 19-4 when playing here. Gillette’s main tenant won 16 division titles in the stadium’s first 18 years, and 5 Super Bowls (they were still playing at old Foxborough Stadium when Brady won his first). With that kind of success, it’s no wonder that the place has sold out every game in its existence.
Success doesn’t come cheap. The Patriots have some of the highest ticket prices in football. But for that price, a fan would see their team win 4 out of 5 times.
Gillette is sorta in the middle of nowhere, closer to Providence RI than Boston. To counter, the Pats designed Patriot Place, a veritable city of its own with over a million square feet of shopping, restaurants, and even a hotel. It’s not a bad place to hang if you’re trying to wait out the brutal traffic after the game.
Parking is pricy, though the team offers a free lot for those willing to not leave until 75 minutes after the game. For a suburban stadium, tailgating is only decent, with many fans pre-gaming in Patriot Place rather than the back of their car. Some fans take a commuter rail trip offered on game days, but the overwhelming majority drive.
The lighthouse and Longfellow Bridge replicas used to be the signature view. The north end zone in which they sit is being redone to feature a new lighthouse, huge video board and a club to connect the east and west club seats; we’ll see if this radically changes the character of the place.
The lack of escalators to the upper deck are a bit of a pain point. Concessions, handled in-house, feature some local flair but is mainly standard stadium fare at NFL prices. Weather can be a factor, and is often made worse by the fact that the Pats have played a lot of late-season late-afternoon and night games.
It’s been my observation that Boston-area fans like to sing when they’re watching their winning teams after a few beers. Brush up to the words of The Outfield’s “Your Love” or Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
The stadium will really start to show its worth over the next few seasons, especially if the team remains a .500 middling club as they’ve been since Brady left. Will some of the stadium’s shortcomings become a bigger issue? Will the fans still come out? Will relative ticket prices come down a little? Or will the $250 million renovation vault this stadium into the upper half? We shall see.