Attending a Game

Here is everything you need to know about attending a game at Gillette Stadium!

Getting tickets:


Directly from the team: Individual game tickets go on sale to general public sometime in mid-July. The specific date for that year will be announced a month or two in advance (in 2015 this is July 15th). These tickets are sold via Ticketmaster. In order to buy them, you will need to use a Visa debit or credit card. While this has the advantages of being at face value and being assured to be legitimate, it has the downside of being very hard to accomplish. Due to the team’s great run of success, these individual game tickets sell out extremely quickly. Particularly popular games (such as when Peyton comes to town) can sell out during the presale to wait-list members. That is, some of the games are completely sold out prior to going on sale to the general public. Even if the tickets aren’t sold out when the sale begins, there are so many people trying to purchase at once that you need to get lucky and refresh at the exact right time to grab the seats you want. This method is great when it works, but is unreliable.

From the secondary market: Buying your tickets from someone who already has them is the way most non-Season Ticket Holders will get their tickets. The major downside is that this is expensive, especially for the more popular games. Another risk is that it’s harder to confirm the tickets are real. Using a site like StubHub or AceTicket protects you against fake tickets (StubHub will refund you if you have a problem and AceTicket has a 200% guarantee), but has more fees. You can often save money by trying Craigslist, but you have no way to make sure you are getting real tickets and no recourse if you get turned away at the gate. SeatGeek is a website that does the same thing as Kayak, but for tickets. This can help you find the best listing. If you are buying on the secondary market, and don’t need to be sure of your trip ahead of time, you can often get a better deal by waiting until shortly before the game. Sellers get desperate as the game approaches, because the tickets are worthless after the game so they will usually drop their price when it gets close.

From the wait list:

If you plan on attending multiple games (or eventually want season tickets), it might be worth it to check into the Wait List. Right now, you can’t get Patriots Season Tickets, and there are somewhere around 60,000 people in line waiting for them. The estimate is that it will take decades to get them (the people who are getting season tickets right now signed up in the early 2000s, before the huge spike that followed sustained success). So, why bother signing up if you won’t get season tickets for 20 years? Because, if you are on the wait list for season tickets, you can get individual games now.

Before we cover the benefits, we’ll go over the cost. It costs $100 per seat to get on the wait list, up to a maximum of 4 seats (and a minimum of 2). This is a deposit, so when you eventually get tickets it will be applied to the cost of your first season, and it is refundable, so you can get the money back if you decide to leave the list before you get tickets. However, you do still tie up a couple of hundred dollars for years.

The most obvious benefit of being on the wait list is that you will eventually get season tickets. However, there are several benefits that you can use in the meantime. Considering how they are immediately available, these benefits are arguably better than saving your spot for season tickets which won’t happen for 15 more years. The main type of benefit is access to individual game tickets. There are a couple of ways that Wait List members can get tickets: Ticketexchange and pre-sales.

The Patriots TicketExchange is the only way that Season Ticket Holders (STHs) are officially allowed to resell their tickets, and is only available to buyers who are STHs or Wait List members. They must do so at face value (and the buyer has to pay an additional ~$10 fee per order). Their incentive to sell their tickets at this price, rather than marked up through a secondary market, is to preserve their own season tickets. If they are caught reselling season tickets, the Patriots will revoke their season tickets. Given the decades it takes to get season tickets right now, that’s a pretty big deal. On top of being caught in the actual act of reselling, STHs are responsible for whoever is sitting in their seats. If they sell tickets to someone, and that person starts a fight (or other disruptive behavior), the season ticket holder is deemed responsible for them being there (which may result in loss of season tickets). When a STH sells through the Ticket Exchange, it is endorsed by the Patriots, and the responsibility for behavior is transferred to the buyer. This means the STH can recoup their face value without risking their place as a STH.

From the perspective of a Wait List member, the Ticket Exchange offers a way to purchase individual game tickets at face value (there is also the per ticket fee, but the face value price is the STH face value price, which is slightly lower than individual game price). The buyer is also assured that the tickets are legitimate. For most games, tickets mostly become available about a week before the game. Some less popular games (e.g. a late season game against the Bills), will have listings available right at the start of the season. For very popular games (such as a Jets-Patriots game), tickets may be sparse until 1-2 days before the game. A Wait List member may only buy up to 4 tickets per game via the Ticket Exchange.

The second way that Wait List members can get tickets is through pre-sales. The Patriots do a pre-sale for both the regular season and playoffs. About a week before the regular season individual game tickets go on sale, Wait List members get access to a private sale. This lets them buy tickets before the huge rush of the general public. Some popular games may still be sold out, due to STHs buying extra seats or faster Wait List members buying up the rest during the pre-sale, but this is an easier way to get face value tickets than during the general sale. In recent years, these pre-sale packages have required the purchase of a preseason game to go along with each regular season game. Due to the variable pricing discounting preseason games, this isn’t as big of a burden as it has been previously. A Wait List member may only buy up to 4 tickets per game through the pre-sale (excluding preseason games).

Wait List members also get access to a pre-sale for home playoff games. Due to the higher demand, it is still difficult to get playoff tickets through the pre-sale, but it is impossible to get them via the general sale since they will sell out during the pre-sale. The number of playoff tickets a Wait List member can purchase is limited to a max of 4 (and the 2011 AFCCG was limited to 2), to try and spread out the small supply.

Choosing your seat location:


The best seat location involves a lot of personal preference. There are a lot of trade offs between price, distance from the field, viewing angle, exposure to elements, and ease of entry/exit. Here’s the seat map(including some pricing information). You should note that sections 225 and 238 are Non-Alcohol Sections. If you plan on drinking, don’t get tickets there or you will have to drink only in the concourse and not at your seats.

Ticket prices vary based on location in the stadium (obviously), and starting in the 2014 season, by opponent. For this season (2016), the base price games are the Texans, Bills, Rams, Ravens, and Jeys. The “Marquee” games of the Dolphins and Bengals are about 25-35% more than those, and the “Elite” game of the Seahawks is 45-55% above the base price. The following chart lists some of the benefits of each location. Keep in mind that the east side of the stadium (Patriots sideline) will have more sun than the west side (visitor sideline).

Seat LocationPriceDistanceViewing AngleElementsAccess
Upper cornerLowestFarFair, overheadExposed to overhead and windLongest walk to exits
Upper sidelineLowFarGood,overheadExposed to overhead and windLongest walk to exits
Upper midfieldMedium-LowFarGreat,overheadExposed to overhead and windLongest walk to exits
Mezzanine CornerMediumMediumGood, overheadMost seats exposed to overhead, partially protected from windEasy walk to exits
Club sectionHighest ++MediumGreat, overheadPartially exposed, access to protected concourse with windowsPrivate access from private lots
Lower corner/endzoneMedium-HighClosePoor (great for 1/3 of field)Exposed to overheadEasy walk to exits
Lower sidelineHighCloseGoodExposed to overheadEasy walk to exits
Lower midfieldHigherCloseGreatExposed to overheadMedium walk to exits

Handicap Accessible Seating: The stadium does sell handicap accessible tickets but they sell out quickly (like all tickets). What many people don’t know is that you can buy regular tickets and exchange them for handicap accessible seating at the ticket office on the day of the game. These seats are located between the 200/300 levels. The ticket office will try and accommodate everyone in the party but they only guarantee a spot for the person who is handicapped and one guest. If for some reason someone in the party can not get a seat the way that the seating is set up makes standing room in the area available and convenient.

Getting there (and back again):


Traffic is not as bad as people make it out to be, unless you show up just before the game, try to park in the stadium lots, and then try to leave immediately.

Driving: If you show up early to tailgate (which you absolutely should), traffic won’t be an issue before the game. If you arrive close to kickoff, traffic can add 20-30 minutes to the end of your trip (i.e. on Route 1). Note that on game days the breakdown lane on Route 1 is open for driving. A lot of people don’t take advantage of this, so you can often skip a lot of traffic by staying to the far right lane. However, don’t try to use backroads to bypass the traffic: police block off access to the side roads on game day to all non-residents, so the only approach to Gillette is on Route 1. At the end of the game you have 2 good options to avoid sitting around for a long time getting out of the parking lot: tailgate again for an hour or two, or leave from one of the private lots. To do the second, park in one of the private business lots about a mile before the stadium. When you leave you’ll get in the lane that’s been reversed in direction, and you’ll be in front of all the merging that goes on to leave the parking lot, saving you more than enough time to make up for the walk. You will have to use Route 1 to get to the stadium regardless of whether you are coming the from the north or south.

There are a lot of options for parking. The stadium lots are the closest to the game, and cost $40 per car. They also take the longest to leave due to traffic. There are about 17500 stadium spots, with about half located across Route 1 from the stadium. These lots open 4 hours before the game. You do not need your ticket to park in the stadium lots (or any of the private lots, obviously).

In addition to the stadiums lots, all the businesses along Route 1 near the stadium offer parking on game days. The price at these lots varies depending on proximity to the stadium, but is in the range of $25-50 (yes, the last private lots just before the stadium lots cost more than the stadium lots). The main advantage of these lots is that it can let you avoid traffic, but being out in front of most of the merging. They also can be cheaper, depending how far you walk. Finally, you get access to the services of the business while parked (for instance you can eat McDonald’s or Chinese food or go the liquor store while tailgating). The downside is that you have to walk further to get to and from the game (plus they are smaller so tailgates aren’t as much part of a massive party).

Bus: Similar to driving, you can take a bus to the game. Rally Bus is a company that books travel buses for groups. On their site you can search by team for whichever game you are interested in attending & purchase spots on the bus by the seat. Each team/city has designated pick-up locations (Rally Points). The bus eliminates the hassle of driving, parking and navigating for those who aren’t from the area or those who want to drink. You can eat and drink on the buses while heading to the game. The buses park in one of the Gillette lots & arrives about 3 hours prior to the kickoff allowing plenty of time to tailgate (you may bring some tailgating items on the bus), then departs the game 45 minutes after the end of the game taking you back to the “Rally Point” the bus departed from before the game. Prices vary (depending on game and number of people on the bus) but seem to be in the $30-$50 range per person. At least 25 people must book a specific bus for it to be confirmed. You will still need to get to and from the Rally Point.

Train: There is a train that runs to Patriots games, from both Boston and Providence. While it does not offer a lot of options, it might be better depending on your specific situation. The train will cost $20 dollars per person. If you are going alone, this can be cheaper than parking costs (or equivalent if you’re going as a pair). The train will take at least an hour and 5 minutes to get from South Station (or Providence) to Gillette (the section of the track that is the Gillette spur requires the train to go very slowly). You won’t get there early enough to tailgate or anything; you’ll have to go straight in once you get there. The train is scheduled to get there about an hour before kickoff, but it can get behind schedule. It will take the same amount of time to travel back after the game, but the train won’t leave for a while, as it needs to let people board (officially this is 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game). Expect it to take up to 1 hour and 45 minutes after the game ends to get back to the city. You’ll want to head straight back to the train when the game ends. If you are going alone or with just one other person, don’t want to tailgate, and are going to be right along one of the two routes (see the previously linked website for specific stops), the train might be a better option for you. Buy your tickets in advance to make sure you get one of the ~1500 spots.

Where to stay:

If you are coming from out of town, you may want to spend the night to avoid all the travel in one day (or turn it into a whole weekend trip). There are two main questions you will need to answer to decide where to stay: What do you want to do besides the game? How much are you willing to spend?

If you want to make an entire weekend trip out of it, you will probably want to get a hotel in either Boston or Providence. This will give you a lot of options for things to do on Saturday, and on gameday you can travel to it via the train or car. The downside to this is that the hotel prices can be pretty high if you go downtown. You can lower this cost for Boston if you stay somewhere further out and take the T in to the city (perhaps something like Quincy since it puts you closer to Gillette). This option is also closer to the airports (Logan in Boston or T.F. Green in Providence), which can be helpful if you are flying to the game.

If you are really only interested in the game, stay closer to Foxborough. This does limit your options for other things to do (the best thing to do in that area on Saturday would be to go to Patriot Place and check out the bars, restaurants, movie theater, bowling alley, and Patriots Hall of Fame). However, this will cut down on travel time to the game, and a lot of hotels in the area will run a shuttle to the game so you don’t even need to worry about driving. Prices in this area are normally lower, but on a gameday they will go up.

If you want to spend $500+ a night you can stay at the Renaissance at Patriot Place. This is literally closer to the stadium than some of the parking lots and is a very nice, upscale hotel. You have great access to the amenities at Patriot Place, but the downside for this option is pretty obvious: it is super expensive.

Tailgating:


Everyone should tailgate when you attend a game. It’s a huge part of the game day experience. It can be as simple (split a 6 pack with your buddy before heading in) or as elaborate (enjoy a dish tailored to the opponent while you watch the other games on a portable TV under the cover of a tent) as you want.

The most basic facts about tailgating are that in order to tailgate you need to drive to the stadium and you need to arrive early. Stadium lots open for tailgating 4 hours prior to the game (you can park earlier than that, but you can’t start tailgating until then). Private lots vary, but you can usually start a little earlier than that. Show up early and have a great time getting “lubed up”, but make sure to have a plan about who will be the DD to get home later. Also, if you are the DD you can get some free soda in the stadium.

Here is the official Gillette Stadium parking page. Keep in mind that private lots may have different policies, though they typically are pretty similar. Some of the more important items from this page:

  • Lots open for tailgating 4 hours before the game
  • Lots close for tailgating 2 hours after the game
  • A car costs $40 to park
  • Bring cash to pay for your parking
  • Open fires are not permitted. Any fire you make needs to have a cover.

If you want a very comfortable tailgate experience for a large group, you can bring an RV. This offers a lot of nice things (i.e. bathroom, cover from elements, easy transport of food, room for a lot of tailgaters, etc), but can get expensive. Parking an RV in the stadium lots costs $150 and requires parking in the specific RV section (use entrances P10 N or P11 on the parking map. Some private lots have room for RVs as well, but you should check with them ahead of time.

Make sure to pack up your tailgate before heading in for the game. For one thing, you need to leave the area open for other cars or people to get through. For another, your stuff may get taken during the 4 hours you aren’t around it (especially if it’s alcohol). When you get back from the game, you can tailgate again for a couple of hours. This is a great way to avoid dealing with any traffic, and assuming it was a 1 PM game, you can have dinner and watch the late games on a portable TV.

The amount of things that people bring to their tailgates varies a lot, but the following are some options that you should consider:

Necessities:

  • Alcohol: Probably the most basic tailgating item. Beer is the most popular choice. This is much cheaper than in stadium beer.
  • Food: Probably the #2 item in tailgating. Tailgating is a long process, and if you’re drinking you’ll want something to much on. Plus it is also much cheaper than food in the stadium. Popular items include chips, hamburgers, buffalo wings, steaks, and hot dogs, but some tailgaters will do more elaborate menus. This can even include tailoring the menu to the opponent (i.e. Cajun food for the Saints).
  • Cooler: You want to keep your beer cold (as well as any cold food you have).
  • Ice: For the cooler.

Basic Equipment:

  • Folding chairs: These allow you to sit down and relax while you enjoy your tailgate. They don’t take up a ton of room, and some even come with cupholders.
  • Folding table: Similar to the chairs, this allows you to spread out your food and drinks, without taking up a ton of space in your vehicle.
  • Grill: Tailgating usually involves some sort of grilled food. If your vehicle isn’t big enough to bring a full grill, there are a lot of smaller portable options that are quite cheap. You can also get a two burner stove, to allow you to cook things besides just grilling. Both of these examples use the 16 oz propane tanks, but there are small charcoal grills you can get as well. Bringing some sort of cooking device allows you to really up the quality of the food you enjoy during your tailgate.

Advanced Equipment:

  • Canopy: The parking spaces are the right size to put up a 10×10 canopy. The canopy is great for pretty much all weather. In the early season it gives you some shade, in rain/snow it keeps you dry, in cold/wind it helps keep you warm (you can get walls to attach to it as well), and it always “defines your space”. The E-Z Up (or similar) canopies go up in just 1-2 minutes, with about the same amount of time to take down.
  • Television: Because pretty much all NFL games are on Sunday, it’s easy to miss all the action happening at other games while tailgating. Fortunately you can still watch them if you bring a TV to your tailgate. Some tailgaters with larger vehicles will have a 50 inch flatscreen TV in the rear of their vehicle that they watch the games on. If you are really committed, you can get portable satellite devices, but you can also just watch regional games that are broadcast over-the-air on a small portable TV and antenna.

Miscellaneous:

  • Games: Have something for your group to play during the tailgate. Popular options include tossing a football or playing cornhole.
  • Extra lighters: Make sure you can start your fire/grill, though you probably can bum off someone around you if you have to.
  • Extra propane/charcoal: You don’t want to run out of fuel halfway through cooking.
  • Disposable plates/silverware: Easy to dispose of when you’re done eating.
  • Paper towels: Keep stuff clean.
  • Toiler paper: The portapotties often run out, so keep a roll in your car. You might not need it, but if you do you’ll be grateful to have the backup.
  • Water: Make sure to rehydrate after the game.
  • Baby wipes: For cleaning up sticky spills
  • Trash bags: Makes disposing of your trash much easier. You don’t want to have to make a trip to one of their barrels every time you need to throw something away.
  • Battery jumper pack/Jumper cables: In case you can’t start your car (or your neighbor can’t start his). You’ll look like a hero if this becomes necessary and you have it.
  • First aid/bandages: In the unlikely event that someone gets a small tailgating injury like a cut or light burn, you’ll be happy that you brought something to patch it up.

There is a sub for this topic, though it’s not as active as it could be: /r/tailgating

Going inside:


Make sure to get into the game a bit early. The lines at the gates can take 15 minutes to go through if you wait until too close to kickoff, and then you still need to get to your seats, which can take another 10 minutes if you’re in the 300s. Try to make it to the gates a minimum of 30 minutes before kickoff, an hour is better. You will need your ticket, but if you bought it from someone else and there is a name printed on it, don’t worry: they won’t check your ID to compare.

There are 3 separate entrances, at the northeast, northwest, and southwest corners of the stadium. Check a mapbeforehand to figure out which entrance is most convenient for your seats.

During the Game:


The most important thing about being inside the stadium is to get loud when the other team is on offense. Particularly on third down, but don’t limit it to that. A false start on first down is still valuable.

If your seats are up in the 300s, expect it to be a bit colder up there as it’s exposed to the wind. Additionally, if you are up there, be aware that there is no connection across the north endzone on that level, so it might make more sense to cross over to the other ramp before you go up.

Because the field runs north-south, the sun sets on the visiting side first (a couple of hours ahead of home side). This is important in the middle months of October/November when there can be a 20 degree difference between sun and shade. The Patriots side will still be bathed in sunlight for an entire 1pm game but the visiting side (because of the height of the stadium and sun setting right behind visiting side) will be in shadow. So bring sunglasses if you are in the 300’s on home side to a 1pm game and plan to put an extra layer or two on on the visiting side.

A lot of the time when the Pats get a first down the announcer will say “and the play is good for a Patriots…” that’s your cue to yell “FIRST! DOWN!” and do the first down signal . Other than this you should be quiet while the Pats are on offense.

The stadium stops selling beer 15 minutes after the second half starts.

Here is the list of things you can’t bring in.

Be prepared for bathroom breaks to take a while, unless you go in the middle of a quarter. To limit this, go the bathroom before the game starts, and make a note of where the nearest bathroom is when you are heading to your seats. That way if you do have to go, you can get a little more quickly. You can also get the Patriots GameDay Live App and check out the bathroom lines before you leave your seat.

There are a lot of ATMs in the stadiums, but the lines can be even worse than the bathroom lines. Bring enough cash to avoid the need to use an ATM during the game. Most concession stands will take cards, but the hawkers walking around are cash based.

You can recharge your phone at some free charging stations in the stadium.

Staying Warm:


If the game you are attending is going to be cold, be sure to take precautions. A little prep work will make the experience much better. If you remember one thing from this section, it should be “layers”. Layer everything. If turns out you have too much, you can always take off a layer. Note that the old wisdom about alcohol keeping you warm is only sort of correct: you will feel warmer in your extremities because your blood is flowing more heavily, but this also means you are losing core body heat faster.

Body: Your innermost layer should be something that will wick the moisture away (you’ll probably sweat a little), such as underarmor. You don’t want that moisture to be near your skin when it starts to get cold. Make sure your outer layer is windproof. The difference that wind makes to your comfort is amazing. Stopping the wind will slow down your heat loss tremendously. Between these two layers you should have several more, depending on how cold it will be. This all applies to both your shirts and your pants.

Hands: Mittens will be warmer than gloves. A good option is to wear a thing pair of gloves, and then a heavy pair of mittens over (this also allows you to stay a little warmer if you need to take off the mittens to use your fingers for something). Use the gap between the two to put some hand warmers. You should put hand warmers in a lot of other places too (notably your boots). Let the hand warmers heat up for a few minutes before putting them in your clothes; they need the air to work properly. Do not put handwarmers where they will directly touch your skin, they can get too hot if that is the case. These type of folding gloves are another option that let you keep use of your fingers when you need them, but without completely splitting up them up all the time.

Head: Make sure you have a good hat (or two). Your head gets a lot of blood, which means it can lose a lot of heat. Protecting your head will make a drastic difference in how cold you feel. Bring something to keep your face out of the cold as well (good options include a balaclava , which will help keep your ears and head warm at the same time).

Courtesy of /u/okthrowaway2088

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