Saturday, July 9, 2016
Foxboro Saved Patriots - and Vice Versa
Posted: Friday, July 8, 2016 12:15 am | Updated: 11:10 pm, Fri Jul 8, 2016.
There was a Town of Foxboro (or Foxborough as it is officially named) long before there was a team or a franchise known as the New England Patriots. And there is no doubt the small community would continue to exist even if the local NFL entity were to move away or close its doors.
But make no mistake, things would change. Foxboro would be a different town, socially as well as financially. Frankly, those two aspects are inexorably linked.
That is something town officials should always keep in mind.
The exact amount of revenue the Kraft organization generates yearly for Foxboro is something greatly debated by town officials and residents, but it is substantial. It involves far more than just the fees the stadium pays in lieu of taxes and the charitable and civic donations that ownership generously gives the community.
There is the mega-development known as Patriot Place, and the taxes that shopping and dining venue generates: The property taxes, the meals taxes, the hotel taxes and the ancillary revenues that patrons drawn there contribute to area businesses.
In the 40-plus years the stadium has been in Foxboro, the monies paid have dramatically increased - both in total dollars and percentage of the town's total revenues. It has gone from something in the neighborhood of under $1 million per year to as much as $7 million to 12 million today (depending on which calculations and numbers you believe).
Now, you can make the argument that had the stadium and Patriot Place not come to town, something else would have taken its place. Perhaps it would have become an office park, or an industrial complex. Maybe the number of jobs and the amount of tax revenue would have rivaled what is being generated today.
But those of us old enough to remember the old Foxboro Raceway and the rather barren land surrounding it in the late 1960s would seriously doubt that. While Foxboro gets credit for saving the Patriots, the opposite is equally true.
Although it should be obvious to virtually everyone, it's worth saying clearly and unambiguously: Foxboro would not be in the excellent financial shape it enjoys today if it were not for the Kraft organization and the New England Patriots.
That is not said to extoll the virtues of the Kraft organization, or in any way diminish the hard work town officials and employees have done in creating the town's financial framework. It's not like the Patriots just showed up and, out of the goodness of their hearts, started lavishing money upon the good people of Foxboro.
The two entities have worked together for the benefit of both. There have been times both good and bad, but in the end they have helped each other become successful.
But today, the town needs the Kraft organization at least a little bit more than the Kraft organization needs the town. And town officials need to keep that in mind.
The KO is rumored to be looking to build a new, smaller venue for the Revolution soccer team, one closer to Boston. That is not because of any dissatisfaction with the community, but rather because it makes financial sense.
Still, town officials estimate it could translate into a $400,000 annual revenue loss for Foxboro. That's a big drop.
It could open up Gillette for other events such as concerts, but that has not always gone smoothly. Problems with curfews have been an issue recently. Noise and traffic concerns have been consistently raised. A concert crowd is less predictable and sometimes less manageable, depending on the artist.
When the Patriots converted some end zone seats to a new premium area, selectmen worried about a revenue loss of some $30,000 per season. If the Revs move and concerts slow down, that could be peanuts.
Selectmen and others have to worry about more than just revenue. They have to keep the town safe and minimize problems.
But if some Foxboro taxpayers think services and property taxes need to be adjusted now, they should imagine the day Tom Brady and Bill Belichick retire and the ticket sales - and revenues - plunge.
The Patriots and Foxboro are in this for the long run. Let's hope both sides always keep that in mind.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.