The Jets don't play the Giants in the regular season except 1 in every 3. They played the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins even less often. And the Ravens, unlike their Baltimore predecessors the Colts were from 1970 to 1983, are not in the AFC East. The other AFC East teams are Buffalo and Miami, both further away.
So the Pats are the Jets' geographic rivals, even before the New York vs. Boston, or New York Tri-State Area vs. New England, dynamic kicks in.
It does help that most Jet fans, due to the Shea Stadium/Queens/Long Island heritage of both teams, are Met fans rather than Yankee Fans. It doesn't help that, A, New England fans wouldn't care, they tend to be bastards to everyone; B, they see "New York," not "New Jersey" or "East Rutherford" or "Jets,"; and, C, they remember that it was the Mets who ruined their dreams in 1986. Granted, they won't hold the Giants' Super Bowl wins over them against you, but they still hate New York.
Especially since they see New York as the home of the NFL office, which has attempted to smear the team, head coach Bill Belichick, and lately, quarterback Tom Brady with the label "cheaters." They have taken great exception to this, calling Brady the "GOAT" -- the Greatest Of All Time, ignoring that Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana each won 4 Super Bowls and never had to cheat for any of them. They even flat-out lie and -- as with David Ortiz of their beloved Red Sox -- Brady didn't cheat.
So I urge a great deal of caution for anyone going up for this games. Be mindful of what you do, say and wear, and where you go. If you follow these instructions, the worst you should get is a bit of verbal abuse.
Before You Go. Boston weather is a little different from ours, being a little bit further north. Mark Twain, who lived the last few years of his life in nearby Hartford, said, "If you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute."
You should check the websites of the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald before you leave. For the moment, they're predicting temperatures in the high 30s for daylight and mid-20s for the evening. They're also predicting "snow showers" for the course of the game. Bundle up.
Wind is sometimes an issue inside Fenway Park and outside the TD Garden, but it shouldn't be a big issue in Foxboro, which isn't close to the Charles River like the former or Boston Harbor like the latter.
Packing your Jets jersey, cap, jacket, whatever else you've got if you're staying overnight, or simply wearing it in the car if you're driving up and back, shouldn't be an issue. I don't think anyone will try to fight you just for wearing your Gang Green Gear.
What you do not want to wear is the kind of T-shirt you see sold at the souvenir stands on River Avenue across from Yankee Stadium, with messages like "BAHSTON SAWKS CACK" or "There never was a curse, the Sox just sucked for 86 years!" If you have one (or more) of these, leave them at home. The Chowdaheads are already antagonized by our mere presence in their city, and there's no reason to make it that much worse. Besides, this isn't even a baseball game.
Massachusetts is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to change your timepieces. And, of course, despite the silliness of the concept of "Red Sox Nation," you do not need a passport to cross the New Haven City Line, or to change your money.
The Jets are considered a "Premier Game," so the Pats charge these ticket prices: In the Lower Level (100 sections): Midfield, $199; Sideline, $169; Corner/End Zone, $135. Mezzanine Level (200 sections): All $117. Upper Level (300 sections): Midfield, $109; Sideline, $85; Corner, $75.
Getting There. Boston, like Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, is too close to fly from New York, and once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, it doesn't really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train. It certainly won't save you any money.
It's important to remember that the Patriots do not play in Boston, but in Foxboro, about halfway between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. (In fact, it's a little bit closer to Providence's Kennedy Plaza than to Boston's Downtown Crossing.) Unlike in Boston proper, where I would never recommend driving, when going to Foxboro, driving is almost mandatory.
It's 208 miles from MetLife Stadium to Gillette Stadium. Unlike Boston proper, where the best way to go is to take Interstate 95 to New Haven, switch to I-91 until Hartford, switch to I-84 to I-90/Massachusetts Turnpike, if you're going to Foxboro, it's best to take I-95 almost all the way up, along Long Island Sound in Connecticut, across Rhode Island including through Providence, into Massachusetts.
Once in Massachusetts, take Exit 6B onto I-495 (Boston's "beltway") North toward Worcester. Take Exit 14A onto U.S. Route 1 North. (Yes, the same Route 1 that goes through New Jersey, including the George Washington Bridge you'll be using early on, but it's not nearly as fast to take 1 all the way up as it is 95.) The stadium will be about 4 miles ahead on your right, as will the Patriot Place mall.
The official address is 1 Patriot Place. (The old stadium was 60 Washington Street -- Washington Street being Route 1.) Also, don't be confused by the spelling: While New Englanders may spell the town's name "Foxborough," and that is the official spelling of the town, it's the same place as "Foxboro."
I don't know where you're starting from, in New York or New Jersey. But if you do it right, once you get over the GW Bridge, the drive should take about 3 hours and 45 minutes: Half an hour in New York State, 2 hours in Connecticut, 45 minutes in Rhode Island, and half an hour in Massachusetts before reaching the stadium parking lot. How long it takes you to get from wherever you are to the GW Bridge, or to the Cross Bronx Expressway if you're already in The City, through a rest stop (New London is about the halfway point of the journey), and then off Route 1 into the stadium parking lot, remains to be seen.
For any of the other Boston teams, the train is usually a very good option. It'll be $210 round-trip from New York's Penn Station to South Station, and it will take roughly 4½ hours each way.
Boston's South Station is at 700 Atlantic Avenue, corner of Summer Street, at Dewey Square. It was named for Admiral George Dewey, naval hero of the Spanish-American War, not New York Governor and 1944 & '48 Presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, and not for former Red Sox right fielder Dwight "Dewey" Evans, either.
Doesn't look very inviting, does it?
There is an alternative. An Amtrak Northeast Regional leaves Penn Station at 7:00, arrives in Providence, Rhode Island at 10:25, and a Foxboro-bound train leaves Providence at 10:30, arriving at 11:35. That doesn't give you much time, even if you order your MBTA ticket in advance, but it is possible.
South Station also has a bus terminal attached, and it may be the best bus station in the country – even better than New York's Port Authority. If you take Greyhound, you'll leave from Port Authority's Gate 84, and it will take about 4½ hours, most likely making one stop, at Hartford's Union Station complex, or in the Boston suburbs of Framingham, Worcester or Newton. New York to Boston and back is tremendously cheaper on the bus than on the train, usually $114 round-trip (it could drop to just $72, with advanced purchase), and is probably Greyhound's best run.
The return trains will leave Gillette Stadium about 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game. So if the game ends at around 4:15, the train will leave at around 4:45, and should get back to South Station before 6:00 PM. This would enable you, if you took Amtrak, to catch the train that leaves at 6:45 PM and arrives at Penn Station at 10:50; if you took Greyhound, to get to South Station's Gate 3, and you could leave at 6:00 PM and arrive back in Midtown at 10:30.
So if you're going to a Jet game at Foxboro, unless it's a Sunday at 4:00-to-4:30 start (and this season's isn't), you' re much better off either driving, or getting a hotel in Boston. Getting one near the stadium won't help: That commuter-rail service only works on Patriot gamedays, so getting back to Boston the next morning will be a hassle.
I went to a game at Gillette Stadium between the New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution, on a Saturday night. But the MBTA doesn't run service to Foxboro on Revs game nights, only for the Pats. I had to take the MBTA commuter-rail service to the closest stop to Foxboro, in Walpole, Massachusetts, and then had to take a taxi the remaining 4 miles -- there and back, $18 each way. That $36 cost me almost as much as my Boston-to-Walpole round-trip train ticket and my game ticket combined. (MLS tickets are considerably cheaper than the 4 big North American sports.) The service also doesn't run on gamedays for the University of Massachusetts (a.k.a. UMass), which plays some home games at Foxboro.
Once In the City. Named for the town of the same name (a shortened version of "St. Botolph's Stone") in Lincolnshire, in England's East Midlands, Boston is home to a little under 700,000 people, with a metropolitan area (including the areas of Hartford, Providence, and Manchester, New Hampshire) of about 7.6 million, making it the largest metro area in the country with only one MLB team in each sport (trailing the 2-baseball-teams areas of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area).
The Massachusetts State House, overlooking Boston's Beacon Hill
Counting New England as a whole -- except for the southwestern part of Connecticut, which tilts toward New York -- there are about 12.8 million people in "Red Sox Nation." This isn't even close to the top, when "markets" are viewed this liberally -- the Yankees have close to 20 million in theirs, and the Atlanta Braves lead with over 36 million -- but it does rank 7th out of 30 MLB markets, and aside from the Yankees none of the pre-expansion teams has as big a market.
Boston is also one of the oldest cities in America, founded in 1630, and was the earliest to have been truly developed. (New York is actually older, 1626, but until City Hall was built and the grid laid out in 1811, it was pretty much limited to the 20 or so blocks from the Battery to Chambers Street.)
It's got the history: The colonial era, the Revolutionary period its citizens did so much to make possible, the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War, Massachusetts' role in that conflict, the Industrial Revolution, the immigrant experience, the homefront of the World Wars, the Depression, civil rights struggles. Aside from New York, it was the only city on the Eastern Seaboard to have grasped the concept of the skyscraper until the 1980s.
It also has America's 1st college, Harvard University, across the Charles River in Cambridge, and a few other institutions of higher learning of some renown in or near the city: Boston College, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northeastern University, Tufts University, College of the Holy Cross, and so on. The particular instance of Harvard, funded by Boston's founding families, resulted in Boston and the surrounding area having a lot of "old money." And then there's all those Massachusetts-based writers.
All this gives Boston an importance, and a self-importance, well beyond its interior population. One of those aforementioned writers, Oliver Wendell Holmes (grandfather of the great Supreme Court Justice of the same name), named the city "the Hub of the Solar System"; somehow, this became "the Hub of the Universe" or just "The Hub."
Early 19th Century journalist William Tudor called Boston "the Athens of America" -- but, as a Harvard man, he would have studied ancient Greece and realized that, while contributing greatly to the political and literary arts, Athens could be pretty dictatorial, warmongering, and slavery-tolerating at times. Later sportswriters have called the Sox-Yanks (in that order) rivalry "Athens and Sparta." Remember, if not for Sparta, all of Greece would have fallen to the Persian Empire at the beginning of the 5th Century BC, and, at the end of that Century, Sparta kicked Athens' ass in the Peloponnesian War -- with Athens having pissed off so many people that the Persians actually allied with Sparta to teach Athens a lesson.
Ah, but today, the Spartans are remembered as crazy warriors with no regard for anything except their own honor, while the Athenians are held up as an ideal society -- which they had been, but allowed themselves to become corrupted. It should be noted, though, that Sparta's allies demanded that Athens be burned to the ground and its people enslaved -- and Sparta refused. They only wanted to end Athens as a threat to them, not punish them.
Boston, "The Hub of the Universe"? To hell with that: We are New Yorkers. (I'm counting people from North and Central Jersey in as "New Yorkers," especially where sports is concerned.) New York is the greatest city in the world, and we don't even have to capitalize that, the way Bostonians do with "The Hub of the Universe."
Foxboro? (Or "Foxborough"? The former name is usually affiliated with the stadium, but the latter name is actually the official spelling.) According to the 2010 Census, it's home to 16,865 people, making it nearly twice the size of East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the Meadowlands Sports Complex. It was founded in 1778, and named for Charles James Fox, a prominent British politician of the era who had stood up for the rights of British America before independence.
It's the hometown of singer Joanna "JoJo" Levesque, who has sung the National Anthem at Patriots games. It was where South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu and his family lived after they had to flee after the fall of Saigon.
Oddly (for our purposes), it was the hometown of Seth Boyden, who moved to Newark and became New Jersey's leading industrialist in the mid-19th Century. A housing project named the Seth Boyden Houses was built -- and is currently targeted for demolition and replacement -- at 130 Dayton Street, across from Weequahic Park. This was the site of Dreamland Park, where the NFL Giants played their 1st game on September 25, 1925. (They beat a non-NFL team called the New York Red Jackets, 3-0. It was counted in the NFL standings.)
ZIP Codes in Massachusetts start with 01 in the West, and 020 to 027 in the East. Famously, the 1972-78 PBS kids' show Zoom, taped at WGBH-Channel 2, told its viewers who had ideas for the show, "Write Zoom! Z-double-O-M! Box 350, Boston, Mass 0-2-1-3-4! Send it to Zoom!"
The sales tax in Massachusetts is 6.25 percent, less than New Jersey's 7 percent and New York City's 8.875 percent. However, aside from that, pretty much everything in Boston and neighboring cities like Cambridge, Brookline and Quincy costs about as much as it does in New York City, and more than in the NYC suburbs. In other words, a bundle. So don't get sticker-shock.
Boston has 3 "beltways." Going outward from the city, they are: Interstates 95 and 93 forming one, Interstate 495 forming the next, and Interstates 190 and 195 forming the next.
When you get to South Station, if you haven't already read The Boston Globe on your laptop or smartphone, pick it up. It's a great paper, with one of the country's best sports sections. There's probably no paper that covers its local baseball team better, although the columns of Dan Shaughnessy (who did not coin but certainly popularized the phrase "The Curse of the Bambino" and wrote a book with the title) and Tony Massarotti (who started at the rival Herald and whose style is more in line with theirs) can be a bit acerbic.
You will also be able to pick up the New York papers at South Station, if you want any of them. If you must, you can also buy the Boston Herald, but it's a tabloid, previously owned by William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch. Although neither man's company still owns it, it carries all the hallmarks of the papers that they have owned (Murdoch still owns the New York Post, the Hearst Corporation owned the New York Journal and its successor, the New York Journal-American, which went out of business in 1966). In other words, the Herald is a right-wing pack of sensationalism, frequently sloppy journalism, and sometimes outright lies, but at least it does sports well (sometimes).
Once you have your newspapers, take the escalator down to the subway. Boston had the nation's 1st subway service, in 1897, along Boston Common on what's now named the Green Line. Formerly known as the Metropolitan Transit Authority, leading to the folk song "MTA," in 1965 it became the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), or "the T," symbolized by the big T signs where many cities, including New York, would have M's instead.
(Here's a link to the most familiar version of the song, done by the Kingston Trio in 1959. Keep in mind that Scollay Square station is now named Government Center, and that the reason Mrs. Charlie doesn't give him the extra nickel along with the sandwich isn't that she keeps forgetting, but that they're acting on principle, protesting the 5-cent exit fare -- my, how times have changed.)
Boston was one of the last cities to turn from subway tokens to farecards, in 2006, a decade after New York's switch was in progress. They cheekily call the cards CharlieCards, after the song character. A ride costs $2.75 with cash, the same as New York's subway, and if you're there for the entire series, it may be cheaper to get a 7-day pass for $21.25. The MBTA 1-day pass is $12, so the 7-day pass is a better option.
There are 4 lines: Red, Green, Orange and Blue. Don't worry about the Silver Line: That's basically an underground bus service designed to get people to Logan International Airport. (General Edward L. Logan was a South Bostonian who became a hero of World War I and then the commander of the Massachusetts National Guard. Boston kept the name on their airport in spite of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, leaving New York to name an airport after that great Bostonian.) Chances are, you won't be using the Blue Line at all on your trip, and the Orange Line might not be used, either.
It's important to remember that Boston doesn't have an "Uptown" and "Downtown" like Manhattan, or a "North Side," "East Side," "South Side" or "West Side" like many other cities. It does have a North End and a South End (which should not be confused with the separate neighborhood of South Boston); and it has an East Boston, although the West End was mostly torn down in the late 1950s to make way for the sprawling complex of the new Massachusetts General Hospital.
Note also that Boston doesn't have a "centerpoint," where all the street addresses start at 1 and move out in 100-segments for each block. It doesn't even remotely have a north-south, east-west street grid like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, and so on.
So for subway directions, remember this: Any train heading toward Downtown Crossing (where the Red and Orange Lines intersect), Park Street (Red and Green Lines), State Street (Blue and Orange Lines) or Government Center (Blue and Green Lines), is "Inbound." Any train going away from those 4 downtown stations is "Outbound." This led to a joke that certain Red Sox pitchers who give up a lot of home runs have "been taken downtown more than the Inbound Red Line."
Red Line train, crossing the Charles River
via the Longfellow Bridge
South Station is on the Red Line. If you're coming by Amtrak or Greyhound, and are up only for one game and are going directly to Fenway, take the Red Line to Park Street – known locally as "Change at Park Street Under" (or "Change at Pahk Street Undah" in the local dialect) – and then take the Green Line, either the B (terminating at Boston College and having that on its marquee), C (Cleveland Circle) or D (Riverside) train. Do not take the E (Huntington Avenue), because it breaks off before reaching Kenmore Square.
Green Line D Train at Pahk Street Undah
Since 2015, Boston's electric companies have been unified under a company called Eversource Energy. The city's demographics have long fascinated outsiders. In the 2010 Census, for the 1st time, Boston no longer had a majority that was non-Hispanic white: 46 percent. The city has become 23 percent black, 22 percent Hispanic, and 9 percent Asian.
Boston has a reputation as the most Irish city in America, but this has dropped to 16 percent of the population descended from the Emerald Isle, now centered mainly on South Boston, a.k.a. Southie, and neighboring Dorchester. But the days when the Boston Irish identified with the Kennedy family ended forever in 1974, when Senator Ted Kennedy went to South Boston High School to calm down the people protesting the busing-aided integration of the school, got booed, and even heard one person yell, "You're a disgrace to the Irish!" For all his flaws, Ted had too much class to yell back, "You're a disgrace to the Americans!"
The Italian presence in the area settled in the North End and across the Charles River in East Boston, a.k.a. Eastie. Nearby Brockton also has a notable Italian population, which produced New England's greatest boxer, 1950s Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano.
Roxbury, the South End and Mattapan are the city's largest black neighborhoods, and, in the weeks before Newark and Detroit did, had a riot in the Summer of 1967. Jamaica Plain, adjacent to the South End, has become the city's largest Hispanic neighborhood.
Foxboro, home of the Pats and the Revs, is about 97 percent white, which makes me wonder if that's why Billy Sullivan moved the Pats there in 1971. Or, it could be nothing more sinister than that's where he got a good deal on land for a stadium.
Going In. Gillette Stadium is 21 miles southwest of Downtown Crossing. It's actually closer, 20 miles, to downtown Providence, Rhode Island. This difference becomes greater in Providence's favor if you drove on the recommended road routes: 24 to 27.
Parking for Patriots games is a whopping $38.50. Tailgating is allowed, starting 4 hours before kickoff, and in designated areas only. So if you want to tailgate, do not do so in the Patriot Place mall parking lot: Get as close to the stadium as you can. If you get routed into the mall lot, you're out of luck for tailgating purposes. As New England is known for seafood, tailgating in Foxboro is known for serving things like shrimp, clams, scallops, and, of course, clam chowder. If you're rich, lobster rolls.
The stadium, like most NFL stadiums, is laid out (roughly) north-to-south. You're most likely to enter at either the northeast corner (the Patriot Place Ramp) or the northwest corner (the Bank of America Ramp).
At the north end zone, to the right of the scoreboard, is a structure designed to look like an old New England lighthouse. The end zone seats below it become "The Fort," the leading supporters' section for the New England Revolution soccer team, filled by their biggest supporters' group, the Midnight Riders (named for Paul Revere and his April 19, 1775 compatriots). The Pats are now 1 of only 2 NFL teams that still shares its stadium with a pro soccer team, the other being Seattle's Seahawks and Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
The north end scoreboard and lighthouse, during a Revs game
There was once something odd by the lighthouse: A statue of a soccer player. Eusébio da Silva Ferreira -- usually just known by his first name -- was born in Mozambique, then a colony of Portugal, and starred for the Portuguese national team and the capital city's team Sport Lisboa e Benfica in the 1960s, making Benfica one of the most popular clubs in the world. He also turned heads in the 1966 World Cup, leading Portugal to the Semifinals, its best performance ever (matched in 2006).
In 1975 (the year of Mozambique's independence), past his prime, "the Black Panther" came to America and played for the Boston Minutemen of the North American Soccer League, who played some (but not all) of their home games at the old Foxboro Stadium. He played for some other American teams, and closed his career in 1979 with the New Jersey Americans of the American Soccer League -- playing home games at Memorial Stadium in New Brunswick, just 8 miles from where I grew up. I could have seen him play, but I never heard of him until 2008, and never knew he played in New Brunswick until 2011. That's how poorly soccer was covered in America until the 1990s.
The statue of Eusébio is identical to the one outside Benfica's Estadio da Luz (Stadium of Light). So why a statue for a man who played just 1 season in Boston, in the area's 5th-most-popular sport? Because there is a large Portuguese community in New England, especially in the strip from New Haven through eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Boston-to-Providence corridor in which Foxboro sits. Most people in "Greater Boston," including Portuguese-Americans, never saw him play, but it's a tribute to them and their sporting spirit as much as to him. And, of course, having a statue of the greatest soccer player Africa has ever produced hasn't exactly hurt race relations in the area.
Eusébio and his Foxboro statue
He died in 2014, but he lived long enough to see the statue's dedication, and it was already there in 2010 when I first visited. It has now been moved to Lusitano Stadium, 400 Winsor Street, in Ludlow, 81 miles west of downtown Boston and 8 miles northeast of downtown Springfield, in a heavily Portuguese area of Western Massachusetts.
The Patriots have the east sideline, the visiting team the west. The playing surface is FieldTurf: The old stadium was artificial turf from 1971 to 1990, and grass from 1991 to 2001; the new stadium opened in 2002 with grass, but switched to artificial turf in 2006. The stadium, as are the Patriots, is owned Robert Kraft's Kraft Sports Group.
Gillette Stadium was built next-door to the facility known as Schaefer Stadium, Sullivan Stadium and Foxboro Stadium, which was torn down and replaced by the Patriot Place mall. The Pats played at the old stadium from 1971 to 2001 (their last game, a Playoff in January 2002, being the Snow Bowl or Tuck Game against the Oakland Raiders).
In addition to the Minutemen, it was home to the New England Tea Men of the North American Soccer League and, from 1996 to 2001, of MLS' Revs. The 1st MLS Cup Final was held at the old stadium on October 20, 1996, and D.C. United beat the Los Angeles Galaxy. The old stadium hosted it again in 1999, with the same result: D.C. over L.A. Gillette Stadium hosted it in 2002, and this time, L.A. won, beating New England at their place in extra time.
Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 1971-2002
The U.S. national soccer team played 10 games at Foxboro Stadium, winning 7. They've now played 12 at Gillette as well, winning 7, most recently losing to Brazil this past September 8. The MLS Cup Final was played at Gillette in 2002, and the Revs qualified for it, but lost it to the L.A. Galaxy. Games of the 1994 World Cup and the 1999 Women's World Cup were played at the old stadium, and of the 2003 Women's World Cup at the new one. The new one also hosted the 2016 NHL Winter Classic, a 5-1 Bruin loss to the Montreal Canadiens. It has been selected by the U.S. Soccer Federation as a finalist to be one of the host venues for the 2026 World Cup.
The Fort, during a U.S. national team game
The new stadium was originally named CMGI Field, named for a supply chain management services company based in the Boston suburbs, but it had to sell off the naming rights, and Gillette bought them.
The University of Massachusetts splits its home football schedule between Foxboro and Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium, in Hadley, Massachusetts, 3 at each site. UMass has a campus in the Dorchester section of Boston, but the main campus in Amherst (to which Hadley is adjacent) is 94 miles west of Downtown Crossing, and 93 miles northwest of Gillette Stadium.
On September 12, 2017, Thrillist had an article ranking all 31 NFL stadiums. Gillette Stadium came in 9th:
Gillette feels massive, especially in the lower sections -- like it's closing in on top of you. It's a tinge of paranoia that no doubt many visiting teams have felt when going up against New England's sizable home-field advantage.
Boston College played a couple of football games at the old stadium in the early 1980s, thanks to the popularity of quarterback Doug Flutie. The old stadium was basically an oversized version of a high school stadium, complete with aluminum benches for fans, and it was terrible. The new stadium is so much better.
On November 19, 2018, Moneywise compiled a list of their , the bottom 19 percent of college football, 25 out of 129. UMass' Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium, built in 1965 and seating just 17,000, came in 17th.
Food. Gillette Stadium is one of the few NFL stadiums I've actually been to, although it was for an MLS game. And yet, I don't remember much about the food options -- and the Patriots' website is woefully inadequate to explaining the options.
I was only at the north end and on the east sideline of the lower level. But I do remember that they had McDonald's stands at both. There was also a Dunkin Donuts stand, a Premio Italian Sausage stand, and a stand selling that New England standby, clam chowder.
I should note that the aforementioned Thrillist article said, "Gillette has some of the safest food in the league, with zero reported critical violations."
Team History Displays. The Patriots hang banners for their 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014 and 2016 World Championships (Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX and LI -- in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2015 and 2017, respectively) at the south end of the stadium. They do not, however, hang corresponding banners for their Conference Championships short of the Super Bowl (1985, 1996, 2007, 2011 and 2017), or for their AFL/AFC Eastern Division titles short of the Super Bowl (1963, 1978, 1986, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and, for the moment, 2018).
* From the 1960s: Founder-owner Billy Sullivan (the old stadium was named for him from 1983 to 1988), quarterback Babe Parilli (later Joe Namath's backup on the Super Bowl III-winning Jets), running back Jim Nance, receiver-kicker Gino Cappelletti (Number 20 retired, now a longtime broadcaster for the Pats), center Jon Morris, defensive tackle Jim Lee Hunt (Number 79 retired), defensive end Bob Dee (Number 89 retired), defensive tackle Houston Antwine, and linebacker Nick Buoniconti (better known as a Miami Dolphin).
All but Morris and Nance were on the team, known as the Boston Patriots until their move to Foxboro in 1971, that reached the 1963 AFL Championship Game, losing to the San Diego Chargers.
* From their 1978 AFC East Champions: Sullivan, quarterback Steve Grogan, running back Sam "Bam" Cunningham (Randall's brother whose USC running stunned the University of Alabama into integrating its team), guard John Hannah (Number 73 retired), linebacker Steve Nelson (Number 57 retired), cornerback Mike Haynes (Number 40 retired), cornerback Raymond Clayborn, and broadcaster Gil Santos.
* From their 1985 AFC Champions: Sullivan, Grogan, Hannah, Nelson, Clayborn, Santos, receiver Stanley Morgan and linebacker Andre Tippett.
* From their 1996 AFC Champions: Santos, quarterback Drew Bledsoe, receiver Troy Brown, tight end Ben Coates, offensive tackle Bruce Armstrong (Number 78 retired), linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest, and cornerback Ty Law.
* From their 2001, 2003 and 2004 World Champions: Santos, Brown, Bruschi, McGinest, Law, and running back Kevin Faulk.
Bledsoe lasted into their 2001 season, but it was his injury that led to the rise of Tom Brady -- thanks for nothing, Mo Lewis of the Jets. Bledsoe did, however, fill in for an injured Brady in the AFC Championship Game, which was the last game he played for the Pats.
Most likely, Brady, defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork, linebacker Mike Vrabel, safety Rodney Harrison, kicker Adam Vinatieri, and, of course, coach Bill Belichick will be named to their Hall; all of these made the Patriots' 50th Anniversary Team in 2009. Receiver Rob Gronkowski is also a likely future inductee.
But the team will probably wait until after team owner Robert Kraft dies to elect him: It would be in bad taste for the owner to elect himself.
While the Patriots have 7 retired numbers, there is no display for them in the open areas of the stadium. The only statues honoring Patriots players are inside the Hall of Fame.
Antwine, Buoniconti and Morris were named to the AFL's All-Time Team. Hannah and Haynes were named to both the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team in 1994, and The Sporting News' 100 Greatest Players in 1999. They and Brady were named to the NFL Network's 100 Greatest Players in 2010.
Junior Seau (2006-09) and Randy Moss (2007-10) each played 4 seasons with the Patriots, and have been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but have not been elected to the Patriots' team Hall of Fame. Curtis Martin played 3 for them (1995-97) before making most of his Hall-worthy achievements with the Jets.
The Patriots have had 5 Heisman Trophy winners on their roster, 2 of them local boys. Joe Bellino (Navy running back, 1960, with the Patriots 1965-67), of the northern suburb of Winchester, and Doug Flutie (Boston College quarterback, 1984, with the Patriots 1987-89 and again in 2005), of the western suburb of Natick. The others were John Huarte (Notre Dame quarterback, 1964, 1966-67), Jim Plunkett (Stanford quarterback, 1970, 1971-75), and Vinny Testaverde (University of Miami quarterback, 1986, 2006).
The New York-New England rivalry does come into play here. A Jet fan, even one old enough to remember rivalries with the Miami Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders, will say that the Patriots are his team's arch-rivals.
Patriot fans aren't sure. They think all 31 of the other teams' fanbases hate them. And they're right. But because of certain events in the past -- particularly the Ben Dreith Game in 1976 and Jack Tatum's paralysis of Darryl Stingley in 1978 -- they still consider their greatest rivals to be the Raiders. Given certain postseason matchups, they may also put the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens, and any team quarterbacked by one of the Manning brothers ahead of the Jets on their "rivalry" list.
But don't let this fool you: They are Red Sox fans, Celtic fans and Bruin fans, and they hate you for being a Yankee Fan, a Knick fan and a Ranger fan. Even if you're actually a Met fan, or a Net fan, or an Islander fan, or a Devils fan. I said they were Red Sox fans. I didn't say they were smart.
The Patriots currently lead the rivalry 64-54-1. This includes Playoff games won by the Patriots at Giants Stadium in the 1985 season and at the old Foxboro Stadium in the 2006 season, and one won by the Jets at Gillette Stadium in the 2010 season.
It was 45-36-1 Jets before Mo Lewis injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001, leading to the rise of Tom Brady. Since that sack, it's been 28-9 Patriots.
Left: "Wicked pissah!"
Right: "Get outta heah, ya bum!"
Stuff. As I said, the Patriots Pro Shop is at the northeast corner of the stadium, on the ground floor, below the Hall. You can get all kinds of Pats clothing, trinkets and doodads there, including some with the old Pat Patriot logo, and the new blue Patriot jerseys as well as the old red ones.
There are lots of DVDs featuring the Patriots, including an official NFL Films history of the team going up through 2008 (meaning the 1st 3 Super Bowl wins and the Giants' 1st upset of them), the highlight films of the 5 Super Bowl wins, and a few others. Michael Holley of the Globe wrote
Patriot Reign, about the Belichick years. He also wrote War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team in 2011. (Perfect? Not quite.)
During the Game. Pats fans can be rather obnoxious. Indeed, a recent Thrillist article calls them the most obnoxious in the NFL, ahead of Oakland and Dallas. They do, however, put the Jets 4th and the Giants 8th. Here's what the author, Matt Meltzer -- an admitted Raider fan -- wrote then:
You did it. You really did it. Never before in the history of sports fair-weather fandom has there been a group as obnoxious as the Pats' fans. I’d like to rewind to the year 1993, when everyone was convinced the Pats would move to St. Louis and become the Stallions, and most Boston people COULDN’T CARE LESS.
The Patriots were, for so very long, the bottom of the barrel in terms of local fan enthusiasm. The Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and all of the major college hockey teams in the Boston area all enjoyed more support than the Patriots.
And then of course we know what happened. It became the year 2000 (2001, actually) and Andover and Wesleyan graduate Billy Belichick started coaching, Drew Bledsoe got hurt, handsome Tom Brady stepped in, and the hapless Patriots started winning Super Bowls. And suddenly the fans came out of the Walden Pond woodwork.Now everyone from Chelsea to Cochituate to Chatham claims that they've been die-hards forever, that they were huge fans during the Grogan and Tony Eason eras, that they know who Dick MacPherson is, and remember when fans used to hold up signs saying "Missing with Sisson" for kicker Scott Sisson. They shed accusations of cheating as if they are old John Hannah jerseys, even though everyone everywhere knows that Belichick is one of those guys who will cheat even while they're winning just because it makes him feel clever.
And so the calls of "P-A-T-S, Pats, Pats, Pats" ring out everywhere, and people still head to the town next to the town with the jail outside of Boston to watch their squad coolly go about the "Patriots Way" of mechanically winning games and refusing to sign beloved veterans because they would like to get paid more for bleeding for this team forever.
But everyone knows you dyed-in-the-wool Pats fans are really just Bruins fans in Brady’s clothing. And deep down, you know it too.
(UPDATE: The article was redone on January 17, 2019. If anything, Meltzer had his previous beliefs deepened, especially by Pats fans.)
As recently as 1993, right after Bill Parcells abandoned New York/New Jersey for New England (before "re-ratting"), the Pats were below the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Bruins, BC football, college hockey, UMass basketball, Providence College basketball, UConn basketball, and even Notre Dame football on the New England sports radar. (And South Bend is nearly 900 miles west down I-90.) There was talk that the Pats would be sold to someone who would move them to Baltimore or St. Louis.
But Parcells got them to Super Bowl XXXI in just 4 seasons, and soon the only question was whether their new stadium would be right there in Foxboro, in downtown Boston, or in Hartford. By the time they won * Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, this after the Red Sox won * the 2004 World Series, Pats fans had become very obnoxious.
The continued ill-gotten excellence has only made it worse, and, just as the Red Sox now have fans too young to remember Bill Buckner, let alone Bucky Dent, now the Pats have fans who can't remember Da Bears burying Tony Eason, or how the Raiders and a ref killed their hopes in 1976 and how a Raider almost killed one of their receivers in 1978. Aside from the Giants' wins in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, the Pats haven't had much humbling in the last 15 years, and they could use some.
For the most part, though, safety will probably not be an issue. In this case, the dynamic is the reverse of baseball: The New York side hates the Boston side a lot more, while the Boston side feels it only has to mention that it's a lot more successful, rather than start any funny business. Most likely, you can wear your Jet gear in the parking lot and in the stadium, and avoid any harassment. So if you don't start anything, neither will they.
From September 1 to 7, 2017, at the height of the NFL National Anthem protest controversy,
FiveThirtyEight.com polled fans of the 32 NFL teams, to see where they leaned politically. You would think that, being in New England, Pats fans would be very liberal. But they were only rated 3.2 percent more liberal than conservative, 19th out of 32, about in the middle of the pack.
The Patriots do not have a regular National Anthem singer, instead holding auditions. Aside from, "Let's Go Pats!"and a pathetic copying of the Jets' main cheer, "P! A! T! S! Pats! Pats! Pats!" their fans don't do much chanting. They do have a fight song, though: "Get Up! Let's Go Pats!"
The Patriots' mascot is Pat Patriot, a Revolutionary Minuteman wearing a Patriots home jersey, Number 1. It should be noted that a former wearer of his costume, Robert Sormanti, was arrested in a 2010 Rhode Island prostitution sting. As far as I know, this is the biggest criminal act by a pro sports mascot since 1985, when Kevin Koch, the original Pirate Parrot, emerged as a key figure in the so-called Pittsburgh Drug Trials.
Pat Patriot. Although it's snowing in this photo,
those are rolled-up T-shirts he's throwing into the stands, not snowballs.
The Patriots also employ a corps known as the End Zone Militia. During each game, about 10 men dressed as Minutemen line the back of each end zone. When the Patriots score, the militia behind the opposite end zone fire a round of blanks from flintlock muskets. ESPN writer Josh Pahigian named this one of the top ten celebrations in the league in 2007.
After the Game. Since Foxboro is suburban, you're not likely to face a crime issue. Both you and your car should be safe. However, since this is still the New York-Boston sports rivalry, even without it being a baseball game, don't get caught napping.
If you're looking for a postgame meal, snack, or just a pint, the mall next-door has several places to eat, including a Five Guys (yum), a Red Robin (eh), an Olive Garden (boo hiss), and that great New England-born, New York-loved institution Dunkin Donuts.
While you won't be as familiar with them, Capriotti's Sandwich Shop is a New England institution, and they have a Patriot Place outlet. D'Angelo's subs doesn't, but they're also a New England treasure. And, while one normally doesn't think of country singers in New England, the mall also has Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill.
Dunkin Donuts, founded in 1950 in Quincy, is all over the place -- including inside the stadium. While Dunkin doesn't serve booze of any kind, it does serve snacks, and coffee, which you may need if you're driving back.
Just as the Riviera Café off Sheridan Square in the West Village and Professor Thom's on 2nd Avenue in the East Village are Sox-friendly bars in New York, there are places in Boston that welcome Yankee Fans. The following establishments were mentioned in a Boston Globe profile during the 2009 World Series:
* Champions, at the Marriott Copley Place hotel at 110 Huntington Avenue (Green Line to Copley).
* The Sports Grille, at 132 Canal Street, across from North Station and the Garden (Green Line to North Station).
* Right across from Fenway itself, Game On! at 82 Lansdowne Street (Green Line to Kenmore).
* I've also heard that Jillian's, across from Fenway at 145 Ipswich Street, takes in Yankee Fans, but I've only seen it rammed with Chowdaheads, so I would advise against it.
The local Giants fan club meets at The Greatest Bar, 262 Friend Street off Canal, a block from the Garden. M.J. O'Connor's, at 27 Columbus Avenue next to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, is the local home of Jets fans. (Green Line to Arlington.) The Kinsale, at 2 Government Center, is also said to be a Jet haven.
If your visit to Boston is during the European soccer season, as we are now in, there are 2 great area bars at which you could watch your favorite club. The bad news is, neither is actually in the city of Boston. The good news is, both are easily accessible via the Red Line.
The Phoenix Landing in Cambridge is the original Boston-area footie pub, and is still the best. Red Line to Central. The Banshee Pub in Dorchester is much more working-class, but if you think you're "hard enough," "come and have a go." (No, I'm not suggesting that anyone will try to fight you: As long as you show respect, you will have that respect returned.) Red Line to JFK/UMass.
On February 3, 2017, Thrillist made a list ranking the 30 NFL cities (New York and Los Angeles each having 2 teams), and Boston came in 8th, in the top 1/3rd. They said:
On November 30, 2018, Thrillist published a list of " ," and Boston came in 6th.
In addition to the Red Sox, it was home to the Boston Braves' home games in the 1914 World Series (as they'd abandoned the antiquated South End Grounds and Braves Field wasn't ready yet), and football games were played there by Boston College, Boston University, the ill-fated Boston Yanks (yes, that name was real) from 1944 to 1948, and the Boston Redskins from 1933 until 1936, before they moved to Washington. And the team then known as the Boston Patriots from 1963 to 1968.
The Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy,
set up for the Patriots in the 1960s.
Note the bleachers in front of the Green Monster,
the Prudential Building still under construction,
and only the old, not the new, John Hancock Building.
It's hosted college hockey and, on New Year's Day 2010, the NHL Winter Classic, with the Bruins beating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime.
Tours are available year-round, and depart at the top of every hour from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $17 for the regular tour, and $25 for the Premium Tour that includes allowing children to take pictures with their mascot, Wally the Green Monster. You can also go on the warning track (but not the actual field), see the left field Wall -- the original Green Monster -- up close, and even touch it, and they'll take you to the seats on top of it, where they used to have netting to protect the buildings across the street from being hit by home run balls. That netting, which was the only thing that caught Bucky Dent's October 2, 1978 home run, is now gone. (I wonder where the ball is today. Hopefully, in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.)
I took the regular tour in 2002, before the Sox ended The Curse of the Bambino, kept my Yankee fandom to myself, and enjoyed it a lot. A tip: Stick a dollar bill in one of the Jimmy Fund boxes, as it's a charity raising money to fight pediatric cancer, with which the Red Sox have been involved since 1953 (and the Boston Braves before that since 1948).
4 Yawkey Way -- the address used to be 24 Jersey Street, and a Number 24 can still be seen on the big oak door that used to be the park's main entrance. Green Line B, C or D train to Kenmore Station. (Don't take the E, and, for some weird reason, there is no A.) When you come out of the station, hang a left onto Brookline Avenue, cross over the Mass Pike, and then the 2nd left onto Yawkey Way. (The 1st left is Ted Williams Way, formerly Lansdowne Street, which is fronted by the Monster, although you'll never recognize it from that angle. The field is below street level, so the Wall won't look its famous 37 feet, 2 inches of height.)
* Solomon Court at Cabot Center. This is part of Northeastern University's athletic complex, and was the site of the Huntington Avenue Grounds, the only other home the Boston Red Sox have ever known, from their founding in 1901 to 1911. When the Sox won the first World Series in 1903, it was clinched here. At roughly the spot where the pitcher's mound was, there is a statue of Cy Young, who pitched for the Sox in their 1903 and 1904 World Championship seasons. Huntington Avenue at Forsyth Street. Green Line E train to Northeastern.
* South End Grounds. This is still the most successful baseball location in Boston history. It was home to 3 ballparks, all named the Sound End Grounds. In 1871, the first such park was built there, and was home to the Boston Red Stockings of the first professional baseball league, the National Association. This team featured half the members of the first openly professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (hence the name), and also had a young pitcher named Al Spalding, who would later co-found the team now known as the Chicago Cubs and the sporting-goods empire that still bears his name. Those Boston Red Stockings team won Pennants in 1872, '73, '74 and '75, and its strength (domination, really) was one of the reasons the NA collapsed.
When the National League was founded in 1876, the Red Stockings were a charter member. They won Pennants in 1877 and '78, and by the time they won the 1883 Pennant, they were popularly known as the "Boston Beaneaters." No, I'm not making that name up. Building a new park on the site in 1888, they won Pennants in 1891, '92 and '93.
But on May 15, 1894, in a game against the NL version of the Baltimore Orioles, a fight broke out, and no one noticed that some kids had started a fire in the right-field seats. (Or maybe it was the ashes of a grown man's cigar. Both have been suggested, probably nobody knew for sure.) It became known as the Great Roxbury Fire, and the story goes that the park and 117 (or 170, or 200) buildings burned to the ground, and 1,900 people were left homeless – but nobody died. (I don't buy that last part at all.)
A new park was hastily built on the site, while the Beaneaters temporarily played at the home of the city's team in the 1890 Players' League. This last South End Grounds hosted the Braves' 1897 and '98 Pennant winners, and lasted until 1914, when, with the team now called the Braves (owner James Gaffney had been a "Brave," or officer, in New York's Tammany Hall political organization), decided it was too small for the crowds the team was now attracting. So he moved the team to Fenway, and played their 1914 World Series games there, and opened Braves Field the next season. Overall, 12 Pennants were won here, in a 44-year span -- one more than the Red Sox have won at Fenway Park in 102 seasons.
Parking for Northeastern University is now on the site -- and save your Joni Mitchell jokes. Columbus Avenue at Hammond Street. Orange Line to Ruggles.
* Third Base Saloon. There's some question as to what was the first "sports bar": St. Louis Brown Stockings (the team now known as the Cardinals) owner Chris von der Ahe's place on the grounds of Sportsman's Park, or Michael T. McGreevy's establishment that opened just outside the South End Grounds, both in the 1880s. "I call it Third Base because it's the last place you go before home," McGreevy would tell people. "Enough said." McGreevy used that phrase to settle any and all arguments to the point where not only did "Nuf Ced" become his nickname, but he had it (spelled that way) laid in mosaic tile on the bar's floor.
Third Base Saloon became the headquarters of the Royal Rooters, a Beaneaters' booster club, founded in 1897. In 1901, when the American League and the team that became the Red Sox was formed, Beaneaters founder-owner Arthur Soden made one of the dumbest mistakes in sports history: Despite competition practically next-door to his team, he raised ticket prices. This infuriated the working-class Irish fan base of the NL club, and they immediately accepted Nuf Ced's suggestion of switching to the AL outfit. (I wonder if they built their park near Nuf Ced's place for just that reason, to get his customers?)
Nuf Ced and the Rooters stayed with the Sox after their 1912 move to Fenway, until 1920 when Prohibition closed him down. He died in 1930, and to this day, no Boston baseball team has ever won a World Series without him being present at all home games. (Not legitimately, anyway.) A park with a bike trail is now on the site, so the address, 940 Columbus Avenue, is no longer in use. As with the site of South End Grounds, take the Orange Line to Ruggles.
A new version, named McGreevy's 3rd Base Saloon, was founded by Dropkick Murphys member Ken Casey, with "an exact replica of McGreevy's original barroom." 911 Boylston Street. Green Line B, C or D train to Hynes-Convention Center.
* Matthews Arena. Opened on April 16, 1910 as the Boston Arena, this is the oldest currently-used multi-purpose athletic building in use in the world. Northeastern still uses it, while BC, BU, Harvard, MIT and Tufts all once played home games here. It was the Bruins' 1st home, from 1924 to 1928, making it the only remaining original arena of one of the NHL's "Original Six" teams. (The Montreal Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens still stand, but neither was their team's original arena.) It was also the 1st home of the WHA's New England Whalers, now the Carolina Hurricanes. They won the 1973 WHA Championship there.
The Celtics played the occasional home game here from 1946 to 1955, on occasions when there was a scheduling conflict with the Garden. In 1985, the Celtics played an alumni game here, with the opposing teams coached by Red Auerbach (his players wearing the white home jerseys) and Bill Russell (who didn't play, his players wearing the road green).
A gift from NU alumnus George J. Matthews led the school to rename the arena for him. In spite of its age, the building is fronted by a modern archway. 238 St. Botolph Street at Massachusetts Avenue. Green Line E train to Symphony. Symphony Hall, Boston's answer to Carnegie Hall, is a block away at Massachusetts and Huntington Avenues.
In return for being allowed to play their 1914 World Series games at Fenway, the Braves invited the Sox to play their Series games at Braves Field, which seated 40,000, a record until the first Yankee Stadium was built. The Sox played their home Series games there in 1915, '16 and '18. The Braves themselves only played one World Series here, in 1948, losing to the Indians, who had just beaten the Sox in a one-game Playoff for the AL Pennant at Fenway, negating the closest call there ever was for an all-Boston World Series.
The Braves' top farm team was the Triple-A version of the Milwaukee Brewers, and, with their team in decline after the '48 Pennant and the Sox having the far larger attendance, they gave up the ghost and moved just before the start of the 1953 season, and then in 1966 to Atlanta.
But they already had Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews, and, ironically, if they'd just hung on a little longer, they would have had Hank Aaron (they'd already integrated with Sam Jethroe in 1948, 11 years before the Sox finally caved in to the post-1865 world and added Pumpsie Green). They could have played the 1957 and '58 World Series in Boston instead of Milwaukee.
If this had happened, once Ted Williams retired in 1960, interest in the declining Sox would have faded to the point that Tom Yawkey, not a New Englander, could have gotten frustrated, and the Red Sox could have moved with the Braves staying. If so, while the 1967, '75, '86, 2004, '07 and '13 World Series would have been played somewhere else, Boston would have gained the 1957, '58, '91, '92, '95, '96 and '99 World Series, and, because of the proximity, there would be a big New York-Boston rivalry in baseball, but it would be Mets-Braves. (Of course, this would have meant the Yankees' main rivals would be the Baltimore Orioles -- who are, after all, the closest AL team to them, closer than the Red Sox.)
Instead, the Braves moved, and BU bought the grounds and converted it into Nickerson Field. The NFL's Boston Redskins (named for the Braves) played their first season, 1932, at Braves Field, before playing 1933-36 at Fenway and then moving to Washington. The NFL's Boston Bulldogs played the 1929 season there before folding. The AFL's Boston Patriots played at Nickerson 1960-62, and then at Fenway 1963-68. The former Braves Field ticket office still stands, converted into the BU Police headquarters. Unfortunately, the field is now artificial.
Braves Field in the 1930s, and Nickerson Field today.
Those dormitory towers are roughly where
the main grandstand of Braves Field was.
Commonwealth Avenue at Babcock Street and Harry Agganis Way. (Agganis was a BU quarterback who briefly played for the Red Sox before getting sick and dying at age 24 in 1955.) Green Line B train at Pleasant Street.
* TD Garden and site of Boston Garden. The TD Garden, formerly the Shawmut Center, the FleetCenter and the TD Banknorth Garden (TD stands for Toronto-Dominion Bank), opened in 1995, atop Boston's North Station, as a replacement for the original Boston Garden, home to the NHL's Bruins starting in 1928 and the NBA's Celtics starting in 1946.
The old "Gahden" (which stood on the site of the parking lot in front of the new one) and the new one have also, since 1953, was home to the Bruins from 1928 to 1995, the Celtics from 1946 to 1995, the New England Whalers in the 1973-74 season, and hosted the Beanpot hockey tournament, contested by BC, BU, Northeastern and Harvard.
The Celtics finally ended their drought in 2008, winning their 17th NBA Championship 22 years after winning their 16th in the old Garden, and the Bruins ended a drought in 2011, winning their 6th Stanley Cup 39 years after winning their 5th. (However, they still haven't clinched at home since Bobby Orr's "Flying Goal" in 1970, 2 days after Willis Reed limped onto the court and gave the Knicks their 1st title).
The Beatles played the old Garden on September 12, 1964. Elvis Presley played it on November 10, 1971. It hosted 1 fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World, with Joe Louis defending the title by knocking Al McCoy out in the 5th round on December 16, 1940.
The new Garden is also home to the Sports Museum of New England. It hosted the Democratic Convention in 2004, nominating home-State Senator John Kerry for President. The old Garden hosted the NCAA's hockey version of the Final Four, now known as the Frozen Four, in 1972, 1973 and 1974. The new one has done so in 2004 and 2015.
Elvis also sang in Massachusetts at the Springfield Civic Center (now the MassMutual Center) on July 14 and 15, 1975; and July 29, 1976.
NCAA basketball tournament games have been held at the TD Garden, the Hartford Civic Center (now the XL Center), the Providence Civic Center (now the Dunkin Donuts Center), the Worcester Centrum (now the DCU Center), and the University of Rhode Island's Keaney Gymnasium in Kingston. But no New England building has ever hosted a Final Four, and none ever will, due to attendance requirements, unless the Patriots put a dome on Gillette Stadium.
No school within the city limits of Boston has ever reached the Final Four. One Massachusetts school has, at least according to current NCAA records: Holy Cross, in Worcester, winning the National Championship in 1947 with George Kaftan, "the Golden Greek," and reaching the Final Four again in '48 with Bob Cousy (a freshman in '47 and ineligible under the rules of the time).
The University of Massachusetts, with its main campus in Amherst, 93 miles west of Downtown Crossing, made the Final Four in 1996, under coach John Calipari, but had to vacate the appearance when later Knick Marcus Camby admitted he'd accepted money and gifts from agents.
The University of Connecticut (UConn, in Storrs, 83 miles southwest, closer to Boston than to Manhattan) has made it 5 times, winning it all in 1999, 2004, 2011 and 2014, and losing in the Semifinal in 2009. They play football at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, a 40,000-seat stadium that was originally considered as a 60,000-seat stadium that would also be home to the Patriots. 615 Silver Lane, East Hartford, 4 miles east of downtown Hartford and 99 miles southwest of downtown Boston.
The only New Hampshire school to make it is Dartmouth, in Hanover, 126 miles northwest, in 1942 and 1944, losing in the Final both times. The only Rhode Island school to make it is Providence, in 1973 and 1987 (coached by future Big East Commissioner Dave Gavitt and future preening schmo Rick Pitino, respectively). No school from Maine or Vermont has ever reached the Final Four.
* Garden Bars. Several noted drinking emporiums are near TD Garden. Perhaps the most famous, and once rated the best sports bar in America by Sports Illustrated, is The Fours, at 166 Canal Street. It's named for "the Miracle of the Fours": 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4, overtime (therefore the 4th period), winning goal scored by Number 4, Bobby Orr, while tripped up by Noel Picard, Number 4 of the St. Louis Blues, to clinch the Bruins' 4th Stanley Cup. (Some people like to point out that it was Orr's 4th goal of the Finals, but in fact it was his 1st.)
As mentioned, the Sports Grille Boston is at 132 Canal Street. McGann's is at 197 Portland Street; while The Greatest Bar – a name, if not an apt description – is at 262 Friend Street.
* Alumni Stadium. Boston College has played football here since 1957, and the Patriots played their 1969 home games here. Prior to 1957, BC played at several sites, including Fenway and Braves Field.
Attached to the west stand of Alumni Stadium is their basketball arena, the Conte Forum, named for a BC grad, longtime Congressman Silvio Conte, a native of Pittsfield, across the State in the Berkshire Mountains. It was built on the site of BC's original arena, the McHugh Forum, which hosted the 1963 edition of the NCAA's hockey version of the Final Four, now called the Frozen Four.
Across the street is a library named for Conte's friend and fellow Congressman from Massachusetts, Cambridge native and 1977-86 House Speaker Thomas "Tip" O'Neill. Beacon Street at Chestnut Hill Drive. Green Line B train to Boston College.
Alumni Stadium. Behind the stands on the right,
BC's arena, Conte Forum, is attached.
* Harvard Stadium. The oldest continually-used football stadium in America -- the University of Pennsylvania's Franklin Field is on the oldest continually-used football site -- this stadium was built in 1903, and renovations (funded by those wealthy Harvard alums) have kept it in tip-top condition, if not turned it into a modern sports palace.
This stadium is responsible for the legalization of the forward pass in football. When the organization that became the NCAA was founded in 1906, rules changes were demanded to make the game safer. One suggestion was widening the field, but Harvard – at the time, having as much pull as Notre Dame, Michigan and Alabama now do, all rolled into one – insisted that they'd just spent all this money on a new stadium, and didn't want to alter it to suit a rule change. Much as Notre Dame has sometimes been a tail wagging college football's dog, the Crimson were accommodated, and someone suggested the alternative of legalizing the forward pass, which had occasionally been illegally done.
Today, the stadium is best known as the site of the 1968 Harvard-Yale game, where the two ancient rivals both came into the game undefeated, and a furious late comeback from 29-13 down led to the famous Harvard Crimson (school newspaper) headline "HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29" and a tie for the Ivy League Championship. (Actor Tommy Lee Jones, then listed as "Tom Jones," started at guard for Harvard in that game. His roommate at Harvard was future Vice President Al Gore.) The Patriots played 1970, their first season in the NFL and last under the name "Boston Patriots," at Harvard Stadium.
A short walk down Soldiers Field Road, at 65 N. Harvard Street, is Jordan Field, the 4,000-seat home of the Harvard men's and women's soccer teams. In 2013, the Revolution and the Red Bulls played a U.S. Open Cup game at Jordan Field, the only time the Revs have actually played a competitive match within the city limits of Boston. (The Revs won, 4-2.)
Jordan Field was also the home of the Boston Breakers -- not a descendant of the USFL team, but the local XI in women's professional soccer. The Breakers previously (2009-11) played at Harvard Stadium. But they folded in January 2018.
Boston College has won the NCAA Championship in hockey in 1949, 2001, 2008 and 2010; Boston University in 1971, 1972, 1978, 1995 and 2009; Harvard in 1989. Northeastern has never won it.
So, unless you really loved the film Seabiscuit or are a huge Beatlemaniac, I'd say that if you don't have the time to see everything on this list, this is the first item you should cross off. 525 McClellan Highway, at Waldemar Avenue, in the East Boston neighborhood, near Logan Airport. Blue Line to Suffolk Downs station.
* Museum of Fine Arts. This is Boston's equivalent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I'm not saying you have to visit, but you should see one major Boston tourist site that doesn't involve sports, and it's a 10-minute walk from Fenway and a 5-minute walk from the sites of the Huntington Avenue and South End Grounds. 465 Huntington Avenue at Parker Street. Green Line E train to Museum of Fine Arts station.
* Freedom Trail. Boston's most familiar tourist trap is actually several, marked by a red brick sidewalk and red paint on streets. Historic sites include Boston's old and new City Halls, Massachusetts' old and new State Houses (old: Built 1711, with the State Street subway station somehow built into it; "new": 1798), the Old North Church (where Paul Revere saw the two lanterns hung) and the Old South Meeting House (where Samuel Adams started the Boston Tea Party and would be horrified at the right-wing bastards using the "Tea Party" name today), Revere's house (said to be the oldest standing house in Boston), the Boston Tea Party Ship, the U.S.S. Constitution, and the Bunker Hill Monument.
The Trail starts at Boston Common, at Park and Tremont Streets. Green or Red Line to Park Street.
* Cambridge. Home to Harvard and MIT, it is not so much "Boston's Brooklyn" (that wouldn't be Brookline, either, but would be South Boston or "Southie" and neighboring Dorchester) as "Boston's Greenwich Village," particularly since Harvard Square was the center of Boston's alternative music scene in the Fifties and Sixties, where performers like Joan Baez and the aforementioned Kingston Trio became stars. Later, it would be rock acts like Aerosmith, the J. Geils Band and the Dropkick Murphys that would make their names in Cambridge.
The city is also home to the Longfellow House, home of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. And while it is worth a visit, no, you cannot, as the old saying demonstrating the Boston accent goes, "Pahk yuh cah in Hahvuhd Yahd." Harvard Yard does not allow motorized vehicles. Centered around Harvard Square at 1400 Massachusetts Avenue. Red Line to Harvard Square.
* Beaches. Despite being noticeably north of New York, Long Island and the Jersey Shore, there are beaches not just near but in Boston. L Street Beach and M Street Beach are in South Boston (a.k.a. Southie), 2 1/2 miles southeast of downtown. Red Line to Broadway, then Bus 9 to East Broadway and L Street, then walk 7 blocks south -- no further from the closest transit than the beach is from the train station at Point Pleasant Beach and the bus station at Ocean City, New Jersey.
Revere Beach is the oldest public beach in America, opening in 1896. 350 Revere Beach Blvd. in Revere, 7 miles northeast of Downtown Crossing. Blue Line to Wonderland.
But the best-known New England beaches are quite a trip. Cape Cod runs from Sandwich (57 miles) to Provincetown (119 miles). The island of Martha's Vineyard (90 miles), famed as a rich man's playground, but also the stand-in for Amity Island in Jaws), can be accessed by the Woods Hole-Vineyard Haven Ferry, about 50 minutes; while the separate island of Nantucket (100 miles) uses the Hyannis-Nantucket Ferry, about 2 hours.
Other notable New England beach towns include Newport, Rhode Island (74 miles); Mystic, Connecticut (98 miles); and Old Orchard Beach and Boothbay Harbor, Maine (97 and 164 miles).
* John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Unlike the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, which is a 2-hour drive north of Midtown Manhattan in Hyde Park, closer to Albany, the JFK Library is much more accessible – not just to drivers and non-drivers alike, but to anyone. Maybe it's because it's more interactive, but maybe it's also because FDR is a figure of black-and-white film and scratchy radio recordings, while JFK is someone whose television images and color films make him more familiar to us, even though he's been dead for over 50 years now. (Incredibly, he's now been dead longer than he was alive.)
Sometimes it seems as though his Library is less about his time than it is about our time, and the time beyond. While I love the FDR Library, there's no doubt in my mind that this is the best Presidential Library or Museum there is. Columbia Point, on the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts. Red Line to JFK/UMass, plus a shuttle bus.
Also on the UMass-Boston campus is the Clark Athletic Center, which hosted one of the 2000 Presidential Election's debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush. 100 Morrissey Blvd., 4 blocks from the JFK Library.
Other Massachusetts Presidential sites include the JFK Tour at Harvard, JFK's birthplace at 83 Beals Street in Brookline (Green Line B train to Babcock Street), those involving John and John Quincy Adams in Quincy (Red Line to Quincy Center – not to "Quincy Adams"), the house at 173 Adams Street in Milton where George H.W. Bush was born (Red Line to Milton, now has a historical marker, although the house itself is privately owned and not available for tours), and the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, in Northampton where he was Mayor before becoming the State's Governor and then President (20 West Street, 100 miles west of Boston, although Greyhound goes there). Closer than Northampton are sites relating to Franklin Pierce in Concord and Hillsboro, New Hampshire.
Salem, home to the witch trials, is to the north: MBTA Commuter Rail Newburyport/Rockport Line out of North Station to Salem. A statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens in Bewitched
was put there by the nostalgia network TV Land, instead of in Westport, Connecticut, where the show was based, because she's the most famous witch in American pop culture. Well, except maybe for Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
Plymouth, where the Pilgrims landed and set up the Massachusetts Bay Colony, is to the south: MBTA Kingston/Plymouth Line out of South Station to Kingston, then switch to FreedomLink bus. And Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in downtown Boston on March 10, 1876, at his house at 109 Court Street. The Government Center T station is there now.
Lexington & Concord? Lexington: Red Line north to its terminal at Alewife, then switch to the 62 or 76 bus. Concord: MBTA Fitchburg/South Acton Line out of North Station to Concord. Bunker Hill? 93 bus on Washington Street, downtown, to Bunker Hill & Monument Streets, across the river in the Charlestown neighborhood, then 2 blocks down Monument.
The Bull & Finch Pub, which was used for the exterior shot and the basis for the interior shot of Cheers, was at 84 Beacon Street at Brimmer Street, across from Boston Common and near the State House. It's since been bought and turned into an official Cheers, with the upstairs Hampshire House (the basis for the show's rarely-seen seafood restaurant Melville's) also part of the establishment. Green Line to Arlington. A version designed to look more like the one on the show, complete with an "island bar" instead of a "wall bar," is at Faneuil Hall. Congress & Market Streets. Orange or Blue Line to State, since Government Center is closed for renovations.
The Suffolk County Court House, recognizable from David E. Kelley's legal dramas Ally McBeal, The Practice and Boston Legal, is at the Scollay Square/Government Center complex. The official address is 3 Pemberton Street, at Somerset Street. Again, use State, due to the closure of Government Center.
Boston wasn't always a popular filming location, or setting, for TV shows. But when Dan Wakefield sold the TV rights to his 1970 coming-of-age novel Going All the Way, he was tired of so many shows being set in New York or Los Angeles, so he set it in a city he knew, and so, in the 1977-78 season, James at 15 aired, and was set in Boston. Although Kevin Williamson filmed Dawson's Creek in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, he was influenced by James at 15, and set the show in fictional Capeside, Massachusetts.
Also set in Boston (some filmed location shots there, but were mostly shot in L.A.) have been Banacek, Cheers, St. Elsewhere, Spenser: For Hire (based on the novels by Bostonian Robert B. Parker), Tru Calling, Crossing Jordan, Boston Public (David E. Kelley goes to school), the Disney Channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Rizzoli & Isles, and, in the realm of sci-fi and fantasy, Fringe and the U.S. version of Being Human.
On M*A*S*H, Boston was the hometown of Captain "Trapper" John McIntire (Wayne Rogers) and Major Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers), and a one-time residence (possibly medical school and hospital work) for Mainer Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda). Yet Trapper and Charles never appeared onscreen together, Hawkeye didn't recognize Charles by face or name, and when Trapper's name was mentioned, Charles showed no recognition.
In contrast to TV, Boston has long been a film setting: The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, the film version of Edwin O'Connor's novel The Last Hurrah, both versions of The Thomas Crown Affair, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Verdict, the Terence Mann scenes in Field of Dreams, Blown Away, the basketball-themed Celtic Pride, The Boondock Saints, Mystic River, the baseball-themed Fever Pitch, The Departed, Gone Baby Gone, and the film about the Boston Marathon bombing, Patriots Day.
Lots of Harvard-set films have filmed in Cambridge, including Good Will Hunting. Ben Affleck also set The Town in Cambridge, but that was a working-class setting: As the saying goes, "Town, not gown." Louisa May Alcott set Little Women in her hometown of Concord. The seaport town of Gloucester was home to The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming and The Perfect Storm. Lowell, in addition to being the real-life home of novelist Jack Kerouac and actress Bette Davis, is the hometown of boxer Micky Ward, the subject of the film The Fighter. Manchester By the Sea was set in the town of the same name. Amherst was the setting for Carnal Knowledge. And the best-known Massachusetts movie of them all, Jaws? Martha's Vineyard, like Nantucket off the south coast, stood in for the fictional Amity Island.
The Prudential Tower, a.k.a. the Prudential Center (not to be confused with the Devils' arena in Newark), at 749 feet the tallest building in the world outside New York when it opened in 1964, contains a major mall. 800 Boylston Street. The finish line of the Boston Marathon, and the site of the 2013 bombing, is at 755 Boylston at Ring Road. Green Line B, C or D to Copley, or E to Prudential.
There are two John Hancock Buildings in Boston, although neither officially has the name on it anymore. The older one, at 197 Clarendon Street at St. James Avenue, went up in 1947 and is better known as the Berkeley Building. It is 495 feet high counting a spire that lights up, and is a weather beacon, complete with poem:
Steady blue, clear view.
Flashing blue, clouds due.
Steady red, rain ahead.
Flashing red, snow instead.
If it's flashing red during baseball season, when snow is not expected (except maybe in April), that means that day's Red Sox game has been postponed. When the Sox won the Series * in 2004, '07 and '13, it flashed red and blue.
The glass-facaded newer building, at 200 Clarendon across from the old one, was completed in 1976 and is 790 feet tall, making it not just the tallest in Boston, in Massachusetts, or in New England, but the tallest in North America east of Manhattan. Green Line to Copley.
I know Jet fans hate the Patriots, with good reasons. So, what better way to mark yourself as a Jet fan -- aside from the chance you get, once every 3 years, to beat the Giants at the Meadowlands -- than to go to Foxboro and, as they say in English soccer, "take the piss on their manor"?
Good luck, and remember: Safety first. Despite Boston's reputation of having several fine medical centers, if given a choice, it's better to be an uninjured coward than a hospitalized tough guy.