With Gillette Stadium hosting it’s first preseason NFL game tomorrow night, The Globe has a series of articles on the new facility. (Decent article by Shaughnessy in there.) I can add to them as I was there last night. I was a guest of my buddy Shawn at a function held in one of the club lounges.
Everything was top-rate, there were too many televisions to count, all playing the “Three games to glory” DVD in a loop. There were a number of speakers, including Jonathan Kraft, and he talked about the way the salary cap is set. (Take all the revenues from all the teams, divide by the number of teams and take 62% of that.) The revenues that do not count are club seating and luxury boxes. Teams like the Cowboys and Redskins had tremendous advantages in these areas, and now the Patriots have gone from getting practically nothing in these areas to right to the top of the league. He talked some about the team last season. He mentioned three turning points of the season.
The first was after the first Miami game, a game in which he said the players quit at the end. Coach Belichick went around the locker room after the game, looking in the eyes of each player and said that only players who were ready to give all were to show up the next day. Whether that was all of them, or just 11 players that would play both ways, he only wanted to see those with the right attitude. The next day, they all showed up of course, and Belichick buried the game ball. The second turning point was the next game, against San Diego. Trailing by 10 with seven minutes to go, the team came back to win in OT, and got them started. The third turning point was the second Jets game. Down 13-0 at the half, on the road at a first place divisional opponent, you lose 9 out of 10 times. Kraft said that Charlie Weis went nuts at halftime and the team turned it around in the second half to come back and win.
He talked about the adversity the team faced last year, losing the starting quarterback, and having their “most physically gifted player, Terry Glenn, having checked out to whatever universe he is from.” Kraft then mentioned that they want Terry to do well this season…so they can get a second round pick. After that…
The club lounges are very comfortable, with large bar, the beers on tap last night were Bass, Guinness and Amstel Light. (What, no Sam Adams– brewer, “patriot”?) a huge dining area with four story glass windows, a good view of the field, and the club seating which is very comfortable. There are Grand Pianos near each entrance to the side I came up on, and one corner has a living room-like area looking out onto the field with a fireplace. That likely would’ve been the most popular spot to watch the “Snow Game” from.
A tour of the stadium followed. The luxury suites are the largest in the NFL and quite impressive. The only complaint might be that the actual game seating, in front of the windows, is a bit tight, nice leather comfortable chairs, but I’m 6’5″ and my knees were up against the marble tabletop looking out onto the field. You also are tight to the person next to you. If you’re in the middle of the row there isn’t much room to get out, either. Of course, all of those seats are probably unlikely to be filled all at once, as the rest of the suite has oversized comfy chairs and a small bar. Got a look at the media room, it’s on the upper level, on a corner of the field, again, a large glass front that can be opened, and a countertop running the length of the window. There are ports to plug in laptops and Ethernet ports for internet access. This room is also used to feed the media and there are many tables in this spacious room with a buffet area near the back.
A walk through the wide concourses down to the area behind the end zone, (across the field from the Lighthouse) has plenty of room for fans to stand and watch a game deciding drive down to that end. It was also very windy, and the guide said this was by design. It’s to give teams like Miami that come up in December, some frigid winds swirling in their faces. The concessions, stand after stand of concessions in the lower level. Large concessions. Wide concourses under the seating. The tour guide mentioned that the Patriots have quick and easy access to the locker room from the field, but that the visiting teams have to walk all the way across the field and through the tunnel and then under a long section of the stands to get to their locker room. It will take some time to get all the CMGi signs out of there. They’re everywhere, on panels next to each door, on trash bins, embroidered on smocks worn by the waitstaff, on napkins, disposable beer cups, manhole covers, highway signs, everywhere…
Yesterday afternoon on sports radio, WEEI’s Big Show spent the bulk of it’s time talking about the Little League World Series. Ordway and the boys are staunchly against the games being televised, as they feel it’s just taking advantage of the kids and putting enormous undo pressure on them. They spent hours talking about this. Meanwhile, on WWZN, the topic was steroids. They had Jose Canseco on again for a lengthy interview, and Steve Burton intimated that the media knows about a Red Sox player “having a good year” who is on steroids.
Just quick links today as I’ve already rambled too much. If you look at the Herald sports page. Next to the Jeff Horrigan article “Sanchez error fuels 4-3 Sox loss” talking about a costly error by Rey Sanchez, there is a picture of Sanchez. Minor league infielder Freddie Sanchez, that is…Pugilist Tony Massarotti looks at Pedro Martinez. Gordon Edes takes a deeper look at Pedro, and his off season conditioning. The trainer who worked with him couldn’t believe how weak Pedro was. Edes and Bob Hohler collaborate on a lengthy notebook, which includes bits on Pedro’s option year, draftee signings and injury updates.
Michael Felger looks at Tebucky Jones, Michael Smith looks at the “Bear” Kenyatta Jones. George Kimball’s article about Donald Hayes has Antowain Smith referring to the Pats receivers as “that big, tall guy and all them `Mini-Me’s.” Jim Baker has a preview of next Tuesday’s HBO “Real Sports” with Terry Glenn going off on the Patriots.
Bob Ryan gets a few things off his chest…
Fox25 has Red Sox/Twins at 8:00. (Nationally on FOX it’s a Bears/Rams preseason game) TBS has Braves/Rockies at 7:30.