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  • Paul Baker

Gillette Stadium – New England Revolution


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Gillette Stadium 1 Patriot Place Foxborough, MA 02035

New England Revolution website

Gillette Stadium website


Year Opened: 2002

Capacity: 20,000

 

So You Say You Want a Revolution?

The New England Revolution are one of the ten charter members of Major League Soccer. Owned by Robert Kraft and family, who also own the New England Patriots of the National Football League, the team shares their home, Gillette Stadium, with the Patriots. The Revolution actually predate their home venue, having played in Foxboro Stadium for their first six seasons before Gillette Stadium opened in 2002.

Throughout the team’s history calls for a soccer-specific stadium have been made, but despite an abundance of rumors popping up over the team’s quarter-century history, no plans have come to fruition. Team owner Robert Kraft has repeatedly stated that he would like to build a soccer-specific stadium in or around Boston.

The Revolution have won the 2007 U.S. Open Cup, the 2008 North American SuperLiga and the 2021 Supporters Shield. The Revs have participated in five MLS Cup finals, most recently in 2014, losing each time. They have the most MLS Cup appearances without winning a title.

Food & Beverage 4

The concessions at Gillette Stadium lack a signature item but hit all the bases. Even though the stadium renovations have removed all stands in the north end zone, there is a good variety of food available in the stands that circle the pitch.

Stands are organized by the type of food sold at each, so you may need to do some searching to find your desired items. Local Street Kitchen (gourmet burgers and specialty sandwiches), Tenders and Wings, Italian Sausage, Sideline Favorites and the Tailgate Grill highlight the offerings. Portable stands ring the inner edge of the concourse providing drinks and snacks to hungry Revolution fans.

Pepsi products are featured at Gillette Stadium. As you might expect, the craft beer game is strong at Revolution games, with a particular emphasis on New England brews. Beers from local breweries including Wormtown, Lord Hobo, Harpoon, Long Trail, Timberyard, Mighty Squirrel, Exhibit A, Battery Steele, Lawsons and Fiddlehead highlight the selections at the Beers of New England and Ale House stands. In addition, national brands are also sold throughout the stadium.

Be warned, you will be paying NFL prices for concessions at a Revolution game. A complete guide to Gillette Stadium concessions can be found here.

Atmosphere 4

The Revolution have created a family friendly atmosphere at Gillette Stadium. The vibe begins in the parking lots, where you can find groups of kids kicking around soccer balls throughout the lots. Once inside the stadium, the energy continues, as Gillette is filled with movement and noise. The focus of the younger fans may not always be on the game, but that’s part of the fun.

The Revolution game day staff put on a professional show, utilizing the one existing scoreboard to good effect with slick videos and promotions. Once the new scoreboard (which will be the largest outdoor scoreboard in North America) is installed, this will be a most impressive sight. The biggest drawback to the experience at Gillette Stadium is the sheer size of the facility. Even with a full lower deck, the large empty upper deck tends to dampen the overall noise in the facility.

The team’s two supporter clubs, the Midnight Riders and The Rebellion, share space in the northern end zone of Gillette Stadium and create much of the noise at a Revs game. These general admission sections have been dubbed “The Fort” during matches. Also in keeping with the Revolutionary War theme are the End Zone Militia, made famous by their 21-gun salute during Patriots games. The Militia are present at Revs games, too, although in a smaller group.

Neighborhood 4

For a long time, there wasn’t much around the Foxboro/Gillette Stadium that would be an attraction for visiting fans. That began to change in 2007 when the Kraft Group started development of Patriot Place, and open-air shopping center and entertainment complex located primarily on the site of the old stadium.

Patriot Place, which went up piecemeal over the years, now consists of 1.3 million square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Included amongst the stores and restaurants are a nature trail, cranberry bog, four star hotel, outpatient health care center and the Patriots Hall of Fame. While this may not be an organic neighborhood, this live/work/play type of development has become a standard feature in the construction of many new facilities.

Fans looking for an alternative to stadium fare will find a plethora of choices at Patriot Place, from the upscale (Davio’s Steakhouse, Skipjack’s) to sports bars and pubs (CBS Sporting Club, Wormtown Brewery) and national chains (Five Guys, Red Robin). With over a dozen eateries in the complex, there’s something here for everyone.

While stores such as Bass Pro Shop and Olympia Sporting Goods feel like they belong in a shopping center located at a stadium, there are many more options if you feel like a shopping spree before or after a Revolution game. Or, you can check out the bowling alley, movie theater or concert venue while you are visiting Gillette Stadium.

Fans 4

The Revolution generally average a shade under 19,000 fans per game, which ranks them in the middle of the overall MLS attendance rankings. This figure represents about 95% of capacity and is just under the league average.

A typical Revolution crowd is a good mix of die-hard fans, families out enjoying the game, and youth soccer groups. Gillette Stadium is filled with energy and motion throughout the game. Of course, the supporter groups create much of the noise in The Fort throughout the game, singing songs, waving flags and doing what supporter groups do.

Access 3

Gillette Stadium is in Foxborough, MA (also spelled Foxboro), a small town of about 19,000 residents located halfway between Boston and Providence, RI. With only one road leading to the stadium from both directions, getting to Gillette Stadium can be a struggle.

While getting into Gillette Stadium is much easier at a Revs game than at a Patriots game, it seems much more complicated to get here than it should be. Parking lots closer to the stadium are reserved for season ticket holders, pushing single-game ticket holders to the furthest lots on the opposite side of Route One. It can be a walk of over a mile to get from your car to the stadium.

A major complaint regarding Gillette Stadium’s suburban location is the lack of any type of public transportation access to the facility. There is an MBTA train stop behind the stadium, but that is only operational for Patriots games. The only way to get to Gillette Stadium for a Revs game is to drive. Given that a significant number of the team’s fanbase comes from the urban areas of Boston, this has been a driving force behind the push for a new stadium.

Once at Gillette, the stadium can be accessed via one of three entry gates. The upper level is closed off for most Revolution games, but the lower concourse is more than wide enough to accommodate the typical Revs crowd. Lines at concession stands or rest rooms are not an issue at all, except sometimes at halftime. While the construction in the north end of the stadium has closed much of that area, access throughout the grounds have not been overly affected. Be aware that Gillette Stadium practices a clear bag policy. More information can be found here.

Starting in early 2022, the Kraft Group began a project to transform the northern end of Gillette Stadium (the end with the bridge and lighthouse). Included in these renovations will be the installation of the country’s largest outdoor high-definition video board, new hospitality and function spaces, a re-envisioned entry plaza, and enhancements to the lighthouse. The project is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2023 NFL season.

Gillette Stadium North End Construction, Photo by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Return on Investment 3

Tickets to a Revolution game start at $35 for general admission in The Fort and top out at $73 for center sections down near the pitch. Discounts are offered for multi-game packages. Family four packs include tickets, food and beverage coupons.

Parking in the lots around Gillette Stadium are free of charge. I know many Patriots fans just became faint reading that. The concessions menu is identical to full-stadium events. You’ll be paying NFL prices for concessions at a Revolution game.

Extras 2

Banners honoring the Revolution’s Supporter Shield, U.S. Open Cup and SuperLiga Championships hang throughout the stadium.

An additional extra point is awarded for the Revolution-specific traditions present at this football facility, including the Flag of New England flown in The Fort. The growing presence of the End Zone Militia deserves a mention, too.

Final Thoughts

While being the little brother sharing a facility with a National Football League team is a less than ideal situation, Gillette Stadium provides the Revolution with a world-class home. Still, the calls for a new soccer-specific stadium continue in New England. With the World Cup coming to Boston in 2026 and the Revolution coming off a successful season, the time for that new home may be coming soon.

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