by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 1/1997
Note: I’d been writing for the Reporter for only a year or so when I wrote this one — keeping the New England Patriots in Foxboro was BIG news back then. And this, my open letter to Mr. Bob Kraft, was very well received by folks in town. To this day (2014) I am so grateful that the Patriots call Foxboro home, and all that the Kraft family has done for our town. I love Foxboro — home of the Patriots!
Dear Mr. Kraft:
My words appear in this space a few times a month, and as a Foxboro resident I’d like to add my voice to everyone else’s in asking you to keep our beloved Patriots right here where they belong in Foxboro.
Sir, if you read the Foxboro Reporter (and I’m sure you must) you can see that in last week’s edition, Foxboro’s selectmen made it clear that we want the Patriots here in Foxboro.
When I write this column, I do my best to make sure I know what I’m writing about, so I must confess that I have no real knowledge of the inner financial workings that drive much of the new stadium plans. High finance and big real estate deals are not my bailiwick. But I have every confidence that when town council Richard Gelermen estimates a savings to Massachusetts of over $400 million dollars if the new stadium is build here in Foxboro, his figures must be accurate.
Mr. Kraft, you now own the land surrounding the stadium, which you picked up for a mere $16 million. You have the land you need to build right here.
Why is the media so hard on Foxboro? Why do people want to move the Patriots out of town? One of the most cited reasons is location. People make comments like, “Tourists won’t want to go to Foxboro. It’s out of the way and inconvenient.” That’s nonsense! I’ve lived here five years and liked the town so much that we bought a home here last year. Foxboro is where I plan to raise my family. Inconvenient? By whose standards? Foxboro has easy access to the major highways, and is one half hour from either Boston or Providence. The commuter trains come here for every stadium event. I work near Boston and have never lamented the “tremendous distance” I must drive to work.
The officials and people of the city of South Boston have made it clear that they do not want a new stadium built in their neighborhoods. The city of Boston itself is also not a practical option: Building a stadium there would require massive infrastructure changes, not to mention the need for the construction of a garage capable of accommodating an estimated 20,000 cars.
The parking situation in Boston in already a nightmare, largely due to the large number of cars already clogging the streets, as well as detours and rerouting caused by a big dig that still has over a decade to go before completion.
We already have plenty of room here in Foxboro. We’ve already expanded route one. Foxboro police have the stadium traffic well under control.
Most importantly, there’s no room in the hearts of Bostonians for the Patriots—oh, the fans there are numerous, but the message is clear: “We love the Patriots, just don’t build their stadium in [Boston].”
That’s really what this is all about: Heart. Passion.
The Patriots are as much a part of Foxboro as the Common is, as much a part of us as the air we breathe here. I tell people I’m from Foxboro, and they automatically reply, “Oh, home of the Patriots!” You can’t go out in this town without seeing someone in a Patriots jacket or shirt. The Founder’s Day parade was filled with kids wearing “Bledsoe” shirts. Stop at the gas station, and people are talking about the Patriots. Go to Saint Mary’s on Sunday, and Father Steve or Father Casey will often mention the Patriots, either in the homily, or maybe at the end of mass, as a reminder that we might say an extra prayer that our beloved team does well that day.
Foxboro has always supported the Patriots. We write passionate letters to our newspapers, demanding changes when they lose, and writing high praise when they do well. Through winning and losing seasons, we are there. The Patriots are part of what makes Foxboro the home town that it is.
And let’s not forget the tremendous generosity of the Patriots to Foxboro’s “Adopt a Child” program every year, plus all the charitable donations and gifts the Patriots make to the needy here in town.
Mr. Kraft, while I don’t pretend to understand all the finances associated with your business, I believe your choice is an obvious one. You can fight everyone in South Boston and other cities who adamantly oppose a new stadium in their neighborhoods, and spend hundreds of millions of dollars doing so, or you can keep the Patriots in Foxboro, build a new stadium here on land you already own, where the town welcomes you with open arms, and save a fortune in the process. It’s a win-win deal for everyone—the Patriots get the new stadium they need, Foxboro gets to keep their beloved Patriots right here, other cities and towns (who will fight any attempt at building a stadium in their neck of the woods) needn’t do battle with you, and you save a lot of money.
The Patriots belong in Foxboro, Mr. Kraft.
Please make the decision where everyone wins and keep them here.