Gillette Stadium, the 68,756-seat home of the New England Patriots, opened in 2002 with a celebration that included the raising of the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl banner. Not too long after that, two more championship banners were raised alongside the original.
Indeed, the new stadium in Foxboro has ushered in an era of winning for the Patriots. Thanks to the coach-quarterback duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Pats went 60-12 in the regular season from 2002 to 2010, and they own a 7-2 postseason record at home in that same span.
Suffice to say, Gillette has created quite a few memories in its relatively short time existing in the Boston sports landscape. Whether you’re a season-ticket holder or planning your first trip to Gillette, this Ultimate Stadium Guide is sure to offer you everything you need to know about visiting Foxboro, from how to get there, where to tailgate, when to arrive and what to expect.
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A new stadium like Gillette Stadium doesn’t have too many quirks and secrets. What you see, for the most part, is what you get.
That said, here are a few helpful tips in planning your trip to Gillette Stadium.
You can’t watch a football game on an empty stomach. That’s a scientific fact. And if you don’t want to bring a grill and meats with you, you’re in luck. A massive shopping center called Patriot Place sits right next to the stadium, with several dining options for hungry fans both before and after the game. Some of the bars get jam-packed, obviously, but if you arrive early enough, you can eat like a king without having to cook.
Tip: Bar Louie’s roof deck offers a cool view of the stadium — provided it’s warm enough to sit outside.
If you want to eat before arriving at the madness of the stadium, plenty of options exist along Route 1. Plan accordingly.
Speaking of the weather, things can get chilly in the season’s final months, especially in the upper levels, where the wind can whip around mercilessly. This may sound obvious, but bundle up. Get out the hats and gloves, and also get out the long johns and heat packs for your feet. It’s hard to cheer for Tom Brady if you’re shivering too much.
If you can’t find tickets to a game but still want to see Patriots Land, visit The Hall at Patriot Place. It’s a modern museum, opened in 2008. Fun exhibits for children and interesting artifacts for adults make it a must-visit for Patriots fans and football fans in general. Head down on any day that’s not a game day and pay $10 ($5 for children). You won’t regret it.
Tip: If you’re a member of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, admission to the Hall is free.
This one’s a little off the wall, but make sure you know who Drew Bledsoe, Steve Grogan, Andre Tippett and Sam Cunningham are. Some of the season-ticket holders get mad at fellow fans who seemingly only know Tom Brady, so if you can come back with an “Excuse me, sir, but where were you when Andre Tippett was leading the NFL in sacks in back-to-back seasons in ’84 and ’85?” response, the locals will think you’re just fine.
Want to get into a Patriots regular-season game? Well, you’re going to need a few things, but the biggest is some luck.
The Patriots have sold out every single game in Foxboro for more than 15 years, so getting tickets is not as simple as calling the box office and picking your seats. That being said, there are methods to find your way into Gillette Stadium.
The best way to get Patriots tickets is not directly from the source. It’s from secondary sites like Ace Ticket and StubHub. There are tickets available for sale for most games, but you just might not like the prices, which can be marked up significantly from face value.
If you buy from these sites, be prepared to pay more than $100 a seat, at least. That’s the price to pay for being a fan of a perennial Super Bowl contender in a stadium that holds fewer than 70,000 fans.
Again, this is not the most ideal option, but many tickets are made available for auction or purchase on eBay. There is a chance, if you’re lucky, that you can get tickets close to face value if someone sells off tickets in a panic a day or so before the game. But more than likely, you’ll be paying a similar amount to what secondary ticket sites are charging. If you do use eBay, also beware of scammers and counterfeit tickets.
The official and most reliable way to get tickets, Ticket Exchange allows season-ticket holders to sell their tickets through the Patriots. Sounds great, right? Well, there’s a catch. In order to purchase tickets through Ticket Exchange, you have to be on the season-ticket waiting list or a season-ticket holder already. There also aren’t usually a ton of tickets available for games you really want to go to, as season-ticket holders tend to sell off less-intriguing matchups.
Gillette Stadium is not the biggest stadium in the NFL — not even close, actually. With room for just 68,756 fans on game day, Gillette sacrifices some home-field advantage in favor of its unique design.
What the stadium doesn’t sacrifice, though, is quality, as there really is no bad seat in the house. From the sideline seats a few feet behind Bill Belichick to the third-level seats up by the stadium lights, you won’t see the words “obstructed view” or “nosebleeds” when you make the trip to Gillette.
Below, we’ll help guide you through the different sections of Gillette.
In most stadiums, this level would be called the upper deck, but given that these seats aren’t 40 stories up in the sky, that would be a bit of a misnomer in this case. There are 18 sections on both sides of the field, with each section having 18 rows. The first seven rows are separated from the rest of the section and cost a bit more cash. The seats in the remaining rows are the least expensive way inside the stadium, and the views aren’t bad at all.
Much of that is due to the design of the stadium, which cuts off the 300 Level seats at the corners of the end zones. You can often be the first in the building to see plays develop from your perch, and for any of the close-up details you can’t catch, the HD video boards behind both end zones are there to help.
The bottom line is that with NFL tickets costing as much as they do, the 300 Level seats provide the best value you can find.
The 200 Level seats offer a rather unique perspective on football games.
Because the middle level is occupied by club seats from basically end zone to end zone, the 200 Level seats are situated only in the corners of the stadium. They are essentially extensions of the 100 Level seats, but for a few bucks less.
If you’re used to living the posh lifestyle, these seats are for you. The red seats span the second level from end zone to end zone, and they’re generally filled at capacity in the first half. If it’s a particularly cold day or lopsided game, though, you’ll notice many of the seats remain unoccupied in the second half.
That’s because the clubhouse is difficult to step out from when it’s 3 degrees below zero. It has a bar, concessions and a dining area, as well as glass windows so you can keep your eye on the game without being exposed to the elements.
Put it this way: If someone invites you to a game with club seats, say yes.
Obviously, the closer you are to the field, the better — and more expensive — the seats. At Gillette Stadium, that would be the 100 Level seats.
Now, you might not want to get too close, as you don’t exactly have the best view in the world from the first few rows. You’ll see close-ups of the coaches and players on the sidelines (and you’ll be particularly entertained watching a team from the South crowd around the space heaters in the winter), but you might not have the best view of the game. From a few rows up, though, you have the best seat in the house.
Kick back and enjoy your fancy seat — just make sure you don’t get yelled at for standing up.
Gillette Stadium, unlike its cousins Fenway Park and the TD Garden, is not located in the middle of a city. It’s not even situated just outside a city. Gillette sits nestled in Foxboro, Mass., a city nestled about 22 miles southwest of Boston and the same distance from Providence, R.I.
Because of the stadium’s location outside of any major metropolitan area, you’d think driving to and from Gillette would be a breeze. To put it politely, you’d be very, very wrong.
There is, essentially, one road in and one road out of Gillette Stadium. That road is Route 1, and it is generally jammed bumper to bumper for the 90 minutes or so before kickoff and the 90 minutes or so after the final whistle.
With that being the case, know that you do have options when it comes to getting yourself to Gillette for a Patriots game.
Sitting in traffic for a Patriots game can be an undeniable pain, and paying $40 hurts the wallet, but sometimes, traveling by car is the best mode of transportation to Gillette. If you can get there early enough to tailgate, you’re allowed to pretty much have the party of your life (provided you don’t light any fire pits). A quick stroll through the parking lot on game day will show you tents, games, barbecues, satellite televisions, a few thousand Tom Brady jerseys and a whole bunch of people excited for football. It’s a good atmosphere, and it’s worth the hassle of driving if you have the time to enjoy it.
Tip: The stadium has plenty of parking, but Route 1 also has some private lots. Often, these lots can provide you with the best way out, as both the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 1 go in the same direction after the game. So, if you drive down Route 1 South and park north of the stadium in a private lot, when you leave, you can pull right out of the parking lot and begin your journey north. You have to walk a little farther to the stadium, but you won’t have to wait in the lines of cars inside the massive Gillette lots to even get on Route 1.
Tip: The most commonly driven route from the north is Route 95 to Route 1, and from the south, it’s generally 95 to 495 to Route 1. However, if you want to avoid some of the mess on the roads, check out the maps. We won’t give away too many secrets, but you do have some back-road options that can at least save you a few minutes of crawling up the highway.
While there isn’t regular rail service to Gillette Stadium, the MBTA does offer options to fans on days of Patriots games. One train leaves from Boston, the other from Providence. A round-trip fare is $15, which is a good deal when you consider that parking costs $40 or more at the stadium.
The Boston train leaves from South Station a couple of hours before kickoff, makes quick stops at Back Bay and Dedham, and then pulls into the backyard of Gillette Stadium well before kickoff.
The other train departs the Providence station, stops in South Attleboro, Attleboro and Mansfield and gets to Gillette about 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
The departure times for these trains vary based on the time of game. You can look at the schedule by clicking here.
The trains depart the stadium 30 minutes after the game ends.
Tip: The biggest potential downside with the train option is a blowout. If you go to a game on Monday night, and the Patriots are winning 42-10 with 10 minutes left, and you’re thinking about how tired you’re going to be at work the next day, you have to sit in a mostly empty stadium for the final 10 minutes, then wait another 30 minutes to get rolling on the train. Knowing that ahead of time helps with planning.
Gillette Stadium explicitly states that there is no designated drop-off area for taxis or buses or anything, so if you want to take a cab, make sure you’re comfortable exiting a moving vehicle. We suggest the tuck and roll. (We’re joking.)
Also, if you think you’re sly and want to attempt to park in the retail shopping area and save some cash, don’t bother. You don’t think Robert Kraft didn’t think of people like you when he built his retail empire down there, did you? You can’t pull it off, so don’t try.
Speaking of the retail area, there are now several restaurants, bars and stores just outside the stadium, so if you’d rather hang around and watch some other games instead of sitting in traffic for 90 minutes, you’ve got a number of good options.
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