November 07, 2007
NFL Fan Value Experience
11 New England Patriots
GILLETTE STADIUM :: Opened 2002 :: Capacity 68,756

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Average Price Per Ticket $90.89
Price Range Of Tickets $49-$125
Ticket Availability Games sold out since beginning of 1994 regular season.
Like the team they cheer, Pats fans "know a lot about the game" and "understand its nuances." This "devoted" following "can be stadium-shaking loud," but with three Super Bowl teams in their recent memories, more than a few believe "fans seem to be complacent." "We've been spoiled by success to some degree;" "when the Pats win, it feels like 'another day at the office.'" "The noise level inside the stadium has decreased dramatically in the last three years" "Now fans barely cheer when Tom Brady makes big plays because we expect it." Admittedly, "being a fan of such a successful team can make one a little jaded to the every-down monotony;" "in big games, however, fans come up big," and "the place absolutely rocks for playoff games." With postseason appearances an annual event, there's little for even the rowdiest fan to get upset over, making Gillette a "family friendly" place, a status fostered by a security detail that has "earned a reputation for being fair, but swift to act, if fun turns to chaos."
SCORE 4 out of 10
Hot Dog $3.50
Soda (22 oz.) $3.50
Beer (16 oz.) $5.50
Expected Meal Cost $10-$20
Program $5
Cap $14.95
The "concession stands all over the stadium" offer "a veritable smorgasbord." In addition to traditional options, McDonald's has locations behind each endzone. Additionally, "there are different New England-themed" places, such as the Granite State Grill or Berkshire Sausage or Boston Common that offer a "great way -- although cheesy -- to connect with the area." As for the food, fans can find plenty of "great sausage sandwiches" and "cheese steaks," but a "regional" theme runs through many of the menus, from "fish and chips" to Legal Seafoods' "clam chowder and clam rolls" to a "lobster sandwich at McDonald's." Variety comes with "ridiculous prices," as does the "great selection of premium beers," but it also comes with "a lot of open spaces where you can sit and eat." Though a sit-down meal might cause a fan to give up some of the game, it's probably an easier option than the fan who sneaks "food and drinks in plastic bags hung off my belt inside my pants, since I can't afford the hot dogs."
SCORE 7 out of 10
Parking $40
"Picture yourself the nucleus in a bowl of spaghetti" and you get the sense of what getting to and from Gillette is like. "Foxboro simply does not have the roads to accommodate the levels of traffic on game day." No matter if you take I-495 or I-95, "all roads lead to Route 1, a four-lane (two in each direction) highway" whose "several stoplights" make it little more than a "slow-moving" "parking lot." To the town's -- and Patriots' -- credit, the lanes were widened when Gillette was built, and "on game days, three lanes are designated for traffic to the stadium (and one lane set for the opposite direction) before games and vice versa after games." But there are so many cars, "there is no improving" a commute whose "gridlock" is "legendary." You can tailgate after the game and see the same car waiting in line to leave for an hour." And before the game, "if you do not get to Route 1 by about 9:30 a.m. for a 1 p.m. game, you'll sit in traffic for most of the tailgating time." In other words, "unless you arrive really early or leave really late, you're stuck." That is unless you are a luxury box owner or a season-ticket holder from Foxboro, both of whom use "a special access road that allows for easier entrance and exit." A "commuter rail from Boston" might save a fair amount of heartburn, and the $12 round-trip ticket will save $28 off the stadium's normal $40 parking charge. No matter the arrangement, perhaps the best advice is to not "make plans right after the game unless you've got a helicopter or a police escort."
SCORE 3 out of 10
"Patriots fans come early and stay late (possibly due to the fact they know how bad the traffic is)." In between you'll find fans cooking "steak and eggs for breakfast;" everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to lobster, clam chowder and baked beans for lunch" and "brats soaked in beer with peppers and onions along with marinated steak tips after the game." The "friendly" atmosphere lends the feast a sense of mass buffet, where "ribs can be traded for T-bone steaks, and jalapeno peppers for three gallons of gas." "There is a brotherhood that forms on the lots" (especially in winter when it's 10 degrees or snowing); a "camaraderie" that has fans sharing tents on rainy days and "always willing to make room on their grills if you happen to forget yours." Copious amounts of beer served morning to night adds to a scene that resembles "St. Patty's Day on steroids." This atmosphere doesn't come without "a sky-high price" to park "but they set you up with plenty of space," and some spots can be purchased "that have electricity, cable and a grill."
SCORE 8 out of 10
<a href=Tom Brady">
Tom Brady :: Bill Frakes/SI
Record through Week 9 9-0
Players Worth Watching Tom Brady (QB), Randy Moss (WR), Wes Welker (WR), Adalius Thomas (LB), Mike Vrabel (LB), Tedy Bruschi (LB), Richard Seymour (DT)
SCORE 10 out of 10
From the "comfortable seats" to the "outstanding sound system" to the "fact that you can see the whole field from every location, even from the concourses as you are waiting in lines," Gillette is "a really clean-looking place, both physically and architecturally." A replica lighthouse and bridge in the end zone toward the open end of the stadium, beyond the north endzone, "add a distinct New England feel to the stadium," and make for a "great spot through which to walk to your seats" and "one of the most fun places to [stand] and watch the game from." That sense of openness, though, "does not contain noise well," "which makes the crowd seem unnervingly quiet." A swath of "high-end club seats (the Fidelity Investments Clubhouse) located smack [in the] heart of the best seating -- between the 35-yard lines" doesn't help foster a home-field advantage "in the colder months when those [ticket-holders] tend to go inside the clubhouse area for warmth, leaving the entire middle of the stadium empty." Further ingraining the socioeconomic divide at Gillette is an upper deck of cheaper seats so "brutal" to reach via long, winding ramps that "you need an oxygen tank and a sherpa." In the grand scheme of a stadium where "TVs everywhere" don't let you miss a play "whether you're going to the bathroom or buying food," where "Minutemen fire their muskets with every touchdown" and where a family section allows a father to "not hesitate taking two daughters," the economic divide of the seating arrangements detracts little from a "fantastic venue." "All you have to do is remember" the Pats used to "play in a pre-fab concrete high-school style stadium with aluminum benches for seats" "and you'll feel like you won the lottery."
SCORE 9 out of 10
Located "about 30 miles southwest of Boston" in a "woodsy" area "on the outskirts" of a "classic, small, New England town," Gillette is a bit of a "football oasis." "It's on Route 1," which is basically a long strip mall," filled with "car dealerships, small businesses," "every chain store imaginable" and "motels." Construction of Patriot Place, a Robert Kraft-built entertainment and shopping complex that is to also include "a movie theatre, a hotel and a shopping mall adjacent to the stadium" has many fans anticipating more interesting days ahead. But until the place opens, and proves a legitimate attraction, Foxboro will remain home to little more than the "small, leafy neighborhood and colonial houses that people think of when New England is mentioned."
SCORE 3 out of 10
By almost all accounts, the Razor is a gorgeous facility, sporting great sightlines -- even while getting food, comfortable seats and, most important, a great team. But it comes at a high price. And though most fans are willing to swallow the $40 parking and $10 McDonald's meals and $90 tickets in return for a privately-financed stadium (For which Kraft deserves praise in this era), the fact that not a single money-making opportunity isn't maximized poses a risk once Bill Belichick and Tom Brady depart. This isn't to say Patriots fans don't appreciate all Kraft has done to improve the team and the game-day experience, but some "wish it didn't cost $600 to bring a family of four to a game." From the prices to a horrific commute that puts one in for "an 8-9 hour day depending on your distance from the stadium," fans aren't cut a break on anything. That isn't much of an issue when you are competing for Super Bowl trophies each season, but when the good times on the field fade, so too will the warmth in the fans' hearts.
FINAL SCORE 44 out of 70

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