The New England Revolution are one of the charter members of Major League Soccer. They have played their home games at Gillette Stadium since its opening in 2002. Gillette Stadium is located in suburban Foxborough, Massachusetts, about halfway between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to serving as home of the Revolution, it more notably serves as the home field of the National Football League's New England Patriots.
When Major League Soccer (MLS) began in 1996, it consisted of ten teams playing mostly in NFL stadiums. As the league expanded over the next two decades, many teams escaped the shadow of their big brothers in the NFL and built soccer specific stadiums to showcase their teams. Today, the Revolution are one of only two teams (along with Seattle) to share their home venue with an NFL team (although, in the spirit of full disclosure, two teams share homes with CFL teams, and another with an MLB team).
As you might expect, sharing a venue with an NFL team is not an ideal situation for an MLS team. The Revolution have repeatedly expressed a desire to move into a soccer specific stadium somewhere in the greater Boston area. From time to time, a rumor will pop up about the latest plans for a new venue, but thus far, nothing has progressed past the rumor phase.
Gillette Stadium's listed capacity for American football is 68,756. For Revolution games the capacity is reduced to 20,000 by closing off the entire upper deck, as well as several seating sections on the lower deck. Signage and sponsor's ads throughout the stadium are Patriots-themed, and the Revolution brand can be difficult to find amid all the Patriots gear.
Despite the negatives that go along with being a small fish in a big pond, the Revolution put on a good show, and a visit to Foxboro is a worthwhile experience for local soccer fans.
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For Revolution games, Gillette Stadium scales back their concessions due to the smaller capacity of the venue for soccer. This does not mean that Revolution fans have limited menu selections. Enough of the 38 permanent concession stands are open here to ensure that the entire concession menu is available and lines do not get too long.
Gillette Stadium's food offerings hit all the expected notes. Stands are organized by the type of food offered at each one. Revolution fans can choose from Fried Tenders & Wings (chicken products), Stadium Grille (burgers, cheesesteaks and grilled chicken), Market Fresh Deli (wraps, sandwiches and salads), Backyard BBQ (pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket), Italian Sausage (sausages, bratwurst and hot dogs) and Stadium Pizza (Papa Gino's pizza). The Lighthouse Grill behind The Fort offers burgers, chicken tenders and pizza. Fans may have to search a little to find their desired items, but the quality is worth the effort.
Fans looking for healthier alternatives will find wraps, sandwiches and salads at the Market Fresh Deli stand. Items such as turkey burgers and Kosher hot dogs can be found throughout all stands as well.
Several portable stands are open to augment the menu. Food carts offer items such as nachos, Friendly's Ice Cream, Kayem hot dogs and assorted snacks.
Pepsi products are featured at Gillette Stadium. Fans looking for adult beverages can choose from several national and international brands, including Bud Light, Coors, Shock Top, Heineken, Guinness and Bass Ale. Many fans will seek out the popular Beers of New England stand, which features local microbrewed favorites from Sam Adams, Harpoon, Long Trail and Allegash Breweries.
Be warned that you will be paying NFL prices for concessions here at Gillette Stadium.
The biggest drawback to the game day atmosphere at Gillette Stadium is the sheer size of the facility. Even when the Revolution attract a crowd in excess of 20,000 fans, the place is still 2/3 empty. Any noise generated by the crowd in Foxboro is swallowed up by the enormity of the empty venue. The Revolution staff do their best to make the game day experience lively and attractive to the many families in attendance.
The Revolution have three distinct supporter groups, The Midnight Riders, The Rebellion and La Barra. These three groups congregate in "The Fort," located in the north end zone (the end of the field under the lighthouse). These supporter groups create the majority of the noise that comes from the Revolution fan base, as they stand throughout the game, singing, chanting, and waving flags. Unfortunately, the noise generated here does not spread throughout the stadium. A scaled back version of the End Zone Militia is present by The Fort, punctuating Revs goals with a 21 gun salute.
The Revolution cater a great deal of their energy towards the many youth groups and families that fill Gillette Stadium for Revolution games. There is a Fan Zone located in the parking lot filled with inflatable play areas, face painting, and other kid-friendly activities. After the game, many kids gravitate to Autograph Alley to meet their favorite players.
Any long time visitor to Gillette Stadium and its predecessor, Foxboro Stadium can tell you what a wasteland the area around the stadium used to be. Fortunately for visitors to the area, that began to change in 2007 with the development of Patriot Place, an open air shopping center and entertainment venue located on the former site of Foxboro Stadium.
Today Patriot Place consists of dozens of retail stores, over a dozen restaurants, entertainment venues including a bowling alley, theater, and concert venue, a nature trail, cranberry bog, four star hotel, outpatient health care center, and the Patriots Hall of Fame. While not an organic neighborhood, Patriot Place offers something for everyone.
Fans coming to Gillette Stadium for a Revolution game who do not wish to partake in the tailgating scene can choose from eateries ranging from the upscale (Davio's Steakhouse, Twenty 8 Food and Spirits), to national chains (Red Robin, Five Guys Burgers, Moe's Southwest Grill, Olive Garden). Choices run the gamut here, from American (CBS Scene, Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill), to fine seafood (Skipjacks, Blue Fin Lounge), to sports bars and night clubs (Bar Louie, Studio 3).
If you would like to enjoy some shopping before the soccer game, the stores at Patriot Place do not focus solely on sporting goods as you might expect from a mall located at a football stadium. In addition to the dozens of stores here, the Showcase Cinema de Lux shows first run movies in their theaters, Showcase Live contains a 16,000 square foot concert hall, and Splitsville is a combination bowling alley/restaurant/night club. Many fans will take their time leaving Patriot Place and have a drink or two after the game before heading home after a Revolution game.
The Revolution are averaging over 18,000 fans per game in 2016. While attendance at Revolution games has been on an upward trend over the past several years, the Revolution consistently rank in the bottom third of the MLS in attendance.
A typical Revolution crowd is filled with families, children, and youth soccer teams, giving the place a feel that is similar to a minor league baseball game in the area. The crowd at a Revolution game is active and energetic, and constantly in motion. This can prove distracting to those fans who are there to pay close attention to the action down on the pitch.
As anyone who has ever attended a Patriots game or concert at Gillette Stadium will tell you, traffic in and out of the area can be a nightmare. Backups of over an hour are common, and it can regularly take a couple of hours to make it from the parking lots surrounding the stadium to Interstate 95 or 495. Luckily, the traffic situation for a Revolution game is much less of a hassle.
There are more than 16,500 parking spots in the numerous lots surrounding Gillette Stadium, which is more than enough for the stadium's posted soccer capacity of 20,000. Parking for Revolution games is free, which is another plus. Gillette Stadium is easy to get to by car, located on Route 1, near the intersections of Interstates 95 and 495. For Revolution games, there is no real need to worry about lengthy traffic backups, as stadium staff who are used to clearing 70,000 fans out of the area after Patriot games can clear 20,000 fans with ease.
A major drawback to Gillette Stadium's suburban location is the lack of any public transportation to the venue. There is an MBTA train stop behind the stadium, but it does not operate during Revolution games. Your only option to get to Foxborough for a Revs game is to drive. Considering that a significant segment of the Revolution's fan base comes from the urban areas of Boston and Providence, the lack of public transportation is a major source of contention and greatly limits attendance.
Once inside Gillette Stadium, the concourses are more than large enough to handle a typical Revolution crowd. The entire lower concourse is open for soccer games, allowing fans to circle the entire field. The 12 female, 10 male, and 2 family restrooms on this level are more than adequate to handle the needs of any Revolution crowd, and lines do not form, even at halftime.
Tickets for Revolution games are split into 4 categories, ranging in price from $48 (midfield, Category 1) to $27 (The Fort, end zone, Category 4). Purchasing your tickets on the day of the game will cost you an extra two dollars. Fans looking for a more upscale experience can look into taking in a game in the Putnam Club (luxury boxes) or the Presidents Club (field level sideline tickets).
The Revolution's average ticket price of $45.28 for the 2016 season ranks them below the league average. Parking for all Revolution games is free, which makes a night with the Revs an affordable alternative for families and groups, especially when compared to the other major league teams in the area, and helps to offset the high concession prices.
Supporter groups-The Revolution enjoy the support of three separate organized fan clubs, all of which congregate in the north end zone in an area known as "The Fort." Fans in this part of the stadium stand throughout the game, singing and chanting throughout the match. It creates an atmosphere unique among local sporting events.
Revolution specific traditions-Soccer fans have their own set of traditions and rituals which add to the overall experience at Gillette Stadium. Fans wave the flag of New England, a red flag with a fur tree in the upper left corner. It has become the secondary logo of the Revolution. In addition, the song "Africa" by Toto has become the unofficial anthem of the team. Feel free to join in with the supporters groups and sing along at halftime.
Family friendly atmosphere-The Revolution staff make a concerted effort to make a Revolution game a great place to take the entire family, and their efforts show throughout. Youth soccer players are part of the pre-game ceremonies, and you will come across many kids dressed in their soccer uniforms running around the concourse. The new Fan Zone is a popular place for young fans to gather before the game. The players are made available after the game for autographs and pictures in Autograph Alley, and every game features giveaways for all fans in attendance.
Sharing Gillette Stadium with the Patriots is far from an ideal situation for the Revolution. The team has made public their desire to build a soccer specific stadium, both to better suit the needs of the team and to have a home closer to their urban fan base in Boston. Until a new venue materializes, Gillette Stadium serves as little more than an adequate home for the Revs.
Follow Paul Baker's stadium journeys on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
By Major League Soccer standards, the New England Revolution have a long history. As one of the original ten teams when league play began in 1996, The Revs, as they are known in New England, have had the time to build a loyal and dedicated fan base. Like most MLS teams, they are challenged by the general lack of interest in soccer by American fans, although that interest has continued to grow over the years. And those Revs fans who do come to cheer on their local team are provided with an excellent facility in which to do so: Gillette Stadium.
Situated midway between Boston and Providence, Foxborough, Massachusetts has been the home of the New England Revolution since the inaugural MLS season of 1996. The Revs are owned by the Kraft Sports Group along with the New England Patriots, and they have shared a stadium in the town with their sister team from the very beginning. Following six mostly undistinguished seasons at the sub-par Foxboro Stadium, the Revs played the very first game at Gillette Stadium on May 11, 2002 and christened the new facility with a 2-0 win over the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas).
Known colloquially as “The Razor”, several elements distinguish Gillette Stadium from the 18 others built primarily for NFL teams during the stadium building boom that started with FedEx Field in 1996. Perhaps most notably, it is one of only two such facilities that was 100% privately financed. (New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium was the other). Both projects received public money for local infrastructure improvements, but only in Gillette’s case was this technically considered part of the overall funding package. Another is the adjacent Patriots Place complex, which transforms what would otherwise be a sea of empty parking spaces outside of 17 MLS and 8 NFL dates (plus playoffs and other special events) into a year-round suburban shopping, dining, and entertainment destination.
It cannot be argued that Gillette is an elite stadium in most ways, one that is perfect for NFL games, concerts, and even soccer matches that warrant a venue with 68,000+ seats. However, it is a less-than-ideal home for an MLS club, a throwback to the early days of the league when virtually every team played in a cavernous, largely-empty NCAA football or NFL stadium. Today, the Revolution are one of only four teams (in a league of 19) that still play in such a large facility. Additionally, Gillette is one out of only four MLS stadiums that has an artificial surface, a much bigger issue in soccer than other sports due to the wear and tear that comes from being in near-constant motion for 90 minutes. Several of the league’s more highly-paid stars, many of whom originally played abroad where such surfaces are banned, have made known their hesitation to play on the FieldTurf due to a fear of injury. This sometimes results in opposing teams of diluted quality, which in turn diminishes the level of play and fan interest along with it.
That said, some credit should be given to the team, stadium management, and fans for trying to make the best out of what they have to work with although more could still be done, especially in terms of stadium branding during Revs matches.
The New England Revolution are one of the charter members of Major League Soccer. They have played their home games at Gillette Stadium since its opening in 2002. Gillette Stadium is located in suburban Foxborough, Massachusetts, 21 miles from downtown Boston and 20 miles from downtown Providence, Rhode Island. In addition to serving as home of the Revolution, it more notably serves as the home field of the National Football League’s New England Patriots. It is one of only two current stadiums to serve as home to both an MLS and NFL team.
As you might expect, sharing a venue with your big brother from the NFL is not an ideal situation for an MLS team. Most notably, Gillette Stadium’s listed capacity for American football is 68,756. For Revolution games the capacity is reduced to 20,000. This necessitates the closing of the entire upper deck, as well as several seating sections and concessions on the lower deck. Signage and sponsor ads throughout the stadium are Patriots-themed, and the Revolution brand can be difficult to find amid all the Patriots gear. From a game play perspective, the playing field consists of FieldTurf, which is a durable surface for football, but is not suited well to the game of soccer.
Despite the negatives that go along with being a small fish in a big pond, the Revolution put on a good show, and a visit to Foxborough is a worthwhile experience for any soccer fan.
I grew up a fan of the revs and I've always loved coming to the games. It's my only chance to go to Gillette because pats games are way to expensive. Nice stadium and very clean with great food and a lot of extra's. Because it's soccer the stadium doesn't fill up but the atmosphere is still pretty good. With the Revs getting better the fan base is growing and also getting a lot better. Patriots place is also very nice and located right outside the stadium with a lot of cool attractions and restaurants.
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