The Hall at Patriot Place is a must visit for any fan of NFL history.
If you don’t like the Patriots, then don’t go, you won’t like it. But if you respect the evolution of the game and understand how important branding is (and that it extends to all aspects and functions of an organization in any and every business or industry), you will love it. It is an absolute education in how a brand can perform to its ultimate level.
As a Bears fan, I kept telling my friend Stephanie (who is also a Bears fan) that the Bears would never do something like this. The Bears, and other poorly run organizations, treat the fans like they are lucky to consume not only the product they put on the field but all iterations of the brand as a whole. The Hall at Patriot Place was definitely made as a thank you to the fans, and that sentiment comes thru in a meaningful way.
Patriot Place consists of three parts – an open-air mall, the Patriots Hall of Fame known as The Hall at Patriot Place, and Gillette Stadium. All three are owned by Robert Kraft via his company the Kraft Group.
To truly understand the existence of this “place,” it’s important to understand and respect the business savvy and determination of Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
A season ticket holder since 1971, Kraft didn’t appreciate how the team was being run. In the 34 years before he bought the team, the Patriots made ONE playoff appearance. How could he get an edge to buying the team? There were three parts — the stadium, the team, and 300 acres of land around the stadium that you needed to be free for parking on game days. That land was owned by an amalgamation of people – Kraft estimates 16 or 17 – and in 1985 he went to them and offered a million dollars a year to control that land and have a 10-year option to buy at any point for $16 million. It was generation $600,000 of parking revenue annually. As Kraft said, that purchase gave him “one leg of the stool.”
Three years later in 1988, then owner of both team and stadium Billy Sullivan went bankrupt after sponsoring Michael Jackson‘s 1984 Victory Tour (seriously!) and the stadium went up for sale. Future owner Victor Kiam bid $18 million, while Kraft bid $25 million – for a stadium that had $50 million dollars of debt. Kraft won in bankruptcy court.
Thanks to an operating covenant, the Patriots team was forced to play there until 2001. That purchase gave him all revenue related to the team — parking, signage, concessions — everything except the ticket revenue. And, the second leg on the stool.
In 1993 after moving through two team owners, then owner James Orthwein wanted to move team to St. Louis. With 8 years remaining on the lease, Kraft refused to let them move. Orthwein offered Kraft $75 million to allow the team to move, for his $25 million dollar purchase. Kraft declined and instead offered to buy the Patriots for $115 to $125 million; and ended up buying the team for $172 million. It was the highest price anyone had ever paid for an NFL franchise. The deal was finalized in 1994 and every single Patriots’ home game has been sold out ever since. From ticket owner to team owner — and parking owner + stadium owner — in 23 years.
Patriot Place is the Genesis of Kraft’s original aim to own team, stadium, and land. The open air mall features a movie theater, 14 restaurants, bowling alley, and retail — an eco-system for non-football fans and post/pregame experiences. Meanwhile, The Hall at Patriot Place and Gillette Stadium (which Kraft built with no public funds) are geared toward football fans. Its absolutely genius.
The first thing you see when you enter The Hall is an entire wing dedicated to team artist Phil Bissell, who created the original for the Patriots, Pat Patriot. How many teams would do that? Here is a quick image gallery:
From there, The Hall at Patriot Place features one cool thing after another. Like Tom Brady‘s stolen Super Bowl jersey:
Troy Brown‘s hands, man:
Have you ever seen an AFC Championship Trophy? I hadn’t either:
My absolute favorite exhibit was one that showed the size of former Patriots’ QB hands. Even though I am a germaphob and there was no Purell in sight, I couldn’t resist:
But you didn’t click on this article to read all this stuff: You came here to see the Patriots Super Bowl Trophies, which is one of the main reason I went to The Hall at Patriot Place. Have you ever seen a Super Bowl trophy in person? I hadn’t seen one either until…
Accompanying each Patriots’ Super Bowl trophy are the actual rings that players and coaches received. Here is the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX ring:
And that is literally just a surface recap of The Hall at Patriot Place. Its a an awesome way to spend a few hours and there are so many interactive exhibits, kids and adults love it. It’s another reason why the Patriots are the best sports organization in America and reflection of how important branding is and what it looks like when done at the highest level.
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