Long before Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the multiple Super Bowl titles, there was the Foxboro Stadium. Known as one of the most basic NFL stadiums of it’s time, it was greatly inferior to Gillette Stadium; both in history and in amenities. Located in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the stadium took a shorter version of the town’s name although it was also once called Sullivan Stadium.
The stadium opened in 1971 as Schaefer Stadium. The Patriots had already been a franchise for 11 years but they were known as the Boston Patriots between 1960 and 1970. Before Foxboro Stadium, the Patriots played their home games at Fenway Park for 7 years as well as two years at Harvard and Boston College’s stadiums. If you have ever been to Fenway Park, you would know that it is extremely inadequate served as an NFL stadium.
Foxboro Stadium was erected on the former Bay State Raceway property which is halfway between Providence and Boston. The franchise had very little help from the city or local officials to construct a stadium which is why it’s layout was so basic. The stadium lacked luxury and private seating as well as individual seating which meant it consisted of only bleachers. Even the locker rooms were way below par. The entire stadium was completely funded with private dollars when it opened in 1971.
Perhaps the most famous game at this former NFL stadium was the very last one played. If you watch the NFL with any regularity, you have seen clips of the final game; a snow covered field with Warren Sapp and the Raiders charging at Tom Brady. This game was the infamous ‘Tuck Rule’ game that will go down as one of the greatest games in the history of the NFL.
Foxboro was one of the smallest NFL stadiums with a capacity of only 60,000. When it was made public that the Patriots were wanting a new stadium built for them, both Hartford and Providence were scrambling to see if they could lure the Patriots to their city while still keeping the New England name. Their plans fell through. Foxboro Stadium was demolished in 2002 just after the Patriots had won their first Super Bowl. The new Gillette Stadium is on the same property as the former NFL stadium, funded entirely by Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Kraft also developed the rest of the property into a retail and hotel district called ‘Patriot Place’. The entire district cost more to construct than Gillette Stadium. This sounds like a place I need to visit.