Itinerant Fan

Gillette Stadium

The humble town of Foxborough, Mass., has been the epicenter of pro football in New England for more than four decades, starting with the Patriots’ move from Boston to a brand-new Schaefer Stadium in 1971 and a name change to the now-familiar “New England Patriots.” In the early 2000s, the team modernized, moving into the sparkling Gillette Stadium. And that just happened to coincide with the Patriots’ rise to become the NFL’s pre-eminent franchise, with four Super Bowl championships since 2001.

Nowadays, Gillette Stadium is often front-and-center on many football fans’ must-visit lists, despite the fact that isn’t not the easiest place to get to (as it’s located some 25 miles southwest of central Boston) or the easiest place to get into (the Patriots have sold out every game they’ve played there since the stadium opened). But the prominence of the Pats, who continue to boast the same coach-QB combo they’ve had throughout Gillette Stadium’s existence, make Foxborough one of the NFL’s most happening spots on every game day.

Go to a Patriots game and you’ll be treated to one of the NFL’s more unique experiences, as you’ll hang out with a fan base that has come to take success for granted and in a stadium nestled within a suburban community. And don’t forget that there are more reasons to visit than just Patriots games — MLS’ New England Revolution and the UMass football team also call Gillette Stadium home.

  •   The Approach

    The first order of business when planning a trip to Gillette Stadium is figuring out where Foxborough is, at least in relation to where you are. While visitors may have a difficult time with the location, it winds up being an advantage for Patriots fans in neighboring Rhode Island and Connecticut, who find themselves with a shorter travel time to the stadium than if it were in Boston proper.

    The easiest route to the stadium involves Interstate 95, which goes north-south between Boston and Providence, R.I. From there, find your way to Route 1, along which the stadium is located; traveling south from Boston, Exit 9 leads directly to Route 1, after which you can travel four miles south to the stadium. More detailed driving directions are available here.

    Once near the stadium, there’s ample parking nearby. The venue is on the east side of Route 1; the majority of general parking lots are on the west side. Ample signage for drivers approaching the stadium grounds will direct you to where you need to, but you can also view a parking map here. General parking cost $40 as of the 2015 season, and pre-purchased passes are not available.

    There is an alternative if you don’t want to drive to the game: the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) operates special trains to Foxborough for Patriots games and select other large-scale events. Trains run from Boston’s South Station and from Providence, and tickets can be purchased for $20 round-trip. The Gillette Stadium stop is just on the other end of Parking Lot 4, northeast of the stadium.

  •   The Build-Up

    Booking.com

    Foxborough is a typical quaint Northeast suburban town of winding single-lane roads, leafy neighborhoods, chain restaurants and gas stations. There are a few eateries and bars along Route 1, but because of crowds and traffic you might want to secure yourself a parking space before venturing out to find a pregame spot — weather permitting, at least.

    Next to the stadium is a mall called Patriot Place that hosts a variety of eateries from casual (Five Guys, Dunkin’ Donuts) to sit-down (Olive Garden, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill), with a few independent restaurants and bars sprinkled in. The CBS Scene restaurant is one of the more popular pregame sports-bar type establishments in the mall.

    Also contained within the Patriot Place complex and Gillette Stadium grounds are a hotel, a pharmacy and a Trader Joe’s for the community. (Note: Parking is free for those who just want to visit Patriot Place on game days, but the Patriots and Gillette Stadium go to some lengths to ensure that fans going to the game don’t attempt to take advantage of this under the guise of just visiting to shop.)

    You can find a guide to nearby restaurants, both in Patriot Place and nearby, here.

  •   The Ambiance

    Compared to the old Foxboro Stadium, which was widely considered one of the worst stadiums in the NFL, Gillette Stadium is a palace. And you’d think it would take a while for the new building to establish a tradition similar to the old one — after all, the final game played at Foxboro Stadium was the infamous “Tuck Rule Game” — the Patriots’ success over the last 15 years has ensured that their fans think of the new place just as fondly.

    The most distinguishing feature of Gillette Stadium is its lighthouse behind the north end zone, and next to it is the sizable Patriots Pro Shop. Like many newer stadiums, Gillette was designed to have the vast majority of seats to be along the sidelines. With a lower bowl, a club level and two tiers of luxury suites, the seating in the upper deck looks and feels high up compared to many NFL venues.

    The capacity of the south end zone bleachers was reduced before the 2015 season with the introduction of the Field Lounge, a bar space right at field level. Access to the lounge is a paid benefit for season-ticket holders.

    Concessions at Gillette Stadium don’t veer too much away from regular sports-venue fare. Standards such as hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders and sausages are the norm. McDonald’s also operates stands at the stadium.

The Particulars

Home Teams
New England Patriots

Address
1 Patriot Place
Foxborough, MA 02035

Year Opened
2002

Capacity
68,756

Upcoming Events
All times local
Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots
Sunday, October 22, 2017
8:30 pm
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Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots
Sunday, October 29, 2017
1:00 pm
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Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Sunday, November 26, 2017
1:00 pm
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Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots
Sunday, December 24, 2017
1:00 pm
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New York Jets at New England Patriots
Sunday, December 31, 2017
1:00 pm
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