Gillette Stadium, out in Foxborough, Massachusetts, is the NFL home of the New England Patriots. The venue sits about twenty-eight miles away from Boston, so it is about a 45-minute drive. Foxborough has been the official home of the New England Patriots since 1971 in Massachusetts. Many people wonder why Gillette stadium is so far from Boston today. Considering that the MLB, NHL, and NBA teams play in Boston, you wonder why the NFL team doesn’t. Here is the breakdown on why the NFL team plays out in the suburbs of Massachusetts.
What is Foxborough, Massachusetts?
Foxborough, Massachusetts, is a small town that sits about thirty miles south from Boston. The city’s population is just under 20k, which is significantly lower than Boston’s population of over 600k. Foxborough also sits 70 miles away from the Cape, which is a popular destination for retirees living out in Massachusetts.
Why did the Patriots change from Boston to New England?
The New England Patriots were originally the Boston Patriots when they began in 1959 in the American Football League. Early in their franchise, they had games at Harvard Stadium, Boston College’s Alumni Stadium, Boston University Nickerson Field, and Fenway Park. The Boston Patriots began looking to build their own football venue in Boston, so they began location scouting.
The seaport, Dorchester, and East Boston were location ideas for their new stadium. Back in the late ’60s, these areas of Boston were not as built up as today, so there was ample land at a cheap value to build a new stadium. As the years went by, the Patriots owner was losing out on bids, so he began to look elsewhere for the venue’s home.
The First Official Home
The Patriots began shopping the team around different towns and states to find a home for the team. Some areas the team was looking at were Salem, New Hampshire, Jacksonville, and Foxborough. After looking around for land, the team chose Foxborough due to the closeness to Boston and its affordability. Foxborough sits 25 miles north of Providence, so it is in the middle between two large cities in the Boston area. The original venue was known as Foxboro Stadium, and it was around from 1971 – 2002.
How Far Away is Gillette Stadium from Boston?
Gillette Stadium sits about twenty-eight miles south of Boston. On a typical day without traffic, fans can expect the card ride to take 40 minutes. For NFL games, soccer matches, or concerts at the venue, fans can expect traffic to increase significantly.
There are a few ways to get from Boston to get down to Gillette Stadium. Fans can take 90 West to 95 South to get to the venue. Another way to travel is to take I-93 South to the site, but traffic on this can be tricky near Boston. Finally, fans can take the commuter rail from South Station to the venue directly.
Another Look at Downtown Boston
The New England Patriots new owner, Robert Kraft, was looking for a new home for the Patriots to build a new stadium. Naturally, Robert Kraft was looking at Boston again to take advantage of the city’s size, the growth of the city’s income, and the transportation system of Boston. One area that the Patriots were looking at to play games was out in Boston’s Seaport district.
The idea of the Seaport District was to move the Red Sox out of Fenway Park, build them a new stadium, and also create the New England Patriots a stadium. Back in the late ’90s, the Seaport in Boston was not as built up as today, so there was enough land for two venues. The two sites would be similar to how Philadelphia houses their venues in the same place, but the deal eventually fell through.
A New Venue in Foxborough
The new Patriots’ home, Gillette Stadium, went up in 2002 next to the old venue. With the new stadium in Foxborough, the Patriots continue building up the area around the site. For example, Patriot Place is a popular destination next to Gillette Stadium that houses restaurants, bars, shopping areas, and more. The idea of Patriot Place is to make Foxborough Massachusetts a destination all year round outside of game days.
View this post on Instagram
Some venues at Patriot Place include CBS Sporting Club, The Summer Stage, which has live music all summer, Bar Louie, and more. Outside of bars, you can also partake in Topgolf, Bass Pro Shop, comedy shows, paint bars, and more. Finally, fans can also book a hotel room at the Patriot Place at the Hilton Garden and Renaissance to make a more extended stay at the venue after Patriots games.
Upside of Foxborough, Massachusetts
There are benefits of having the New England Patriots NFL Team and New England Revolution’s soccer team play in Foxborough. First, Foxborough is close to Boston and Worcester of Massachusetts. Foxborough is also close to Providence, Rhode Island, so it sits between three major cities in the New England area. Unlike Boston, Gillette Stadium can cater to fans who live in these three popular cities as a whole. In addition to those three cities, Foxborough is also close to the state of Connecticut.
Second, Foxborough has lots of lands, so tailgating parties are standard for home games. Tailgating in the parking lots is common for concerts and soccer matches too. Unlike TD Garden, where the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins play, Gillette is in a giant parking lot. If you are looking for TD Garden parking, you can visit that link.
Another upside of playing home games in Foxborough is the ability to expand the venue. For example, the Patriots have a Hall of Fame that is open for fans to visit without a game day ticket. Patriot fans can check out memorabilia from Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Adam Vinatieri, and more.
Downside of Foxborough
While the New England Patriots continue to expand in the small town of Foxborough, there are some issues. First, getting to and from Gillette Stadium is difficult because the road to the highway is one lane on both sides of the road. Fans can expect to spend a lot of time waiting in the parking lots after a concert or match due to the limited size of the road to the highway. Traffic moves slowly due to the road size, so that is the biggest complaint in the area.
The second issue of having the Patriots play in Foxborough is the limitation on public transportation. Unlike Boston’s MBTA (Mass Bay Transportation Authority), which has a subway, bus, water taxi, commuter rail, and more ways to travel around the city, Foxborough has limitations. There is only one commuter train that runs from Boston (from South Station) to Foxborough for preseason games, regular home games, and specific events. Patriots fans coming from Providence (from TF Green Airport in Warwick) can use a commuter train as well.
The New England Patriots playing out in Foxborough, Massachusetts, makes a lot of sense when you understand their history. While initially, they had home games in different stadiums in Boston, they could never secure the land in Boston for themselves exclusively. Foxborough became their home due to the closeness to the Boston area, and their proximity to Rhode Island and Connecticut. With Patriot Place in the area now, you can expect the Patriots to be in Foxborough for a long time.
If you are looking for Gillette Stadium parking, you can visit that link.