When the New England Patriots linked up with the Raiders for joint practices last month, Bill Belichick compared Las Vegas’ “magnificent” football facility to the Taj Mahal.
Their setup this week will be a bit less lavish.
The Patriots on Tuesday confirmed they will practice at Palm Beach Atlantic University as they prepare for their regular-season opener against the Miami Dolphins. They’ll train there Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before taking the field at Hard Rock Stadium at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
What, you might be wondering, is Palm Beach Atlantic University?
Not to be confused with the much larger Florida Atlantic, it’s a small Christian university with an enrollment of about 2,800, located roughly an hour north of downtown Miami in West Palm Beach, Fla. Its 18 varsity teams — nicknamed the Sailfish — compete in the Division-II Sunshine State Conference against the likes of Nova Southeastern, Florida Institute of Technology and Barry University.
Not included in those varsity sports: football. Palm Beach Atlantic does not have a football program. The Patriots will practice at the Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Athletic Campus, seemingly on fields typically used for soccer and lacrosse.
The Patriots traveled to the Miami area on Tuesday — a rare step for a season opener. The team typically travels to road games on Friday or Saturday, but players believe the extra practices in the South Florida heat and humidity will help prepare them for Sunday.
“It’s going to be very important to go down there early to get the guys who haven’t been in the league and haven’t played in Miami accustomed to the weather,” veteran defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, an ex-Dolphin, said last week. “So going down there however many days we’re going down early is going to be great for guys to get acclimated to the heat. It’s either going to be a hot one or it’s going to be raining, so it’s very important to get down there early.”
Success in Miami has eluded the Patriots for much of the last decade. They’ve lost seven of their last nine games in the Dolphins’ home stadium, including late-season losses in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021. Bill Belichick’s club also has dropped six of its last nine overall against Miami, including a season sweep a year ago.