By Alexandra Francisco
New England Patriots players are used to hearing noise from the crowds at Gillette Stadium before running out onto the field before home games.
Starting this season, some of those fans will be right in the tunnel with them, wishing them luck from the Bud Light Celebration Beer Hall.
This new addition is just part of the $250 million investment the Kraft family has put into the stadium’s most recent renovation, which also includes a new 22-story lighthouse and state-of-the-art videoboard that will be the largest of its kind in the entire country.
The project features the most transformational improvements made to Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002, and Kraft Sports + Entertainment executives Jen Ferron and Jim Nolan recently offered media an update and behind-the-scenes look at progress.
“Fan experience is always where we lead from,” said Ferron, chief marketing officer of KSE.
“When we designed the stadium back in 2002, we intentionally wanted to leave space for other amenities to grow with the building. We know that technology has evolved. We know that fans’ expectations have evolved. … We feel incredibly blessed to that we have the space to allow us to pivot and reinvent ourselves. Fans being at the forefront of everything we do, we believe when they come here to Gillette Stadium starting in September and then going forward, that those coming here for a football game or soccer game or a concert, they’ll feel we’ve committed and reinvested in their experience.”
The upgrades will be immediately apparent to visitors, with the Enel Plaza and grand staircase leading into Gillette Stadium having been expanded and reimagined. The lower concourse saw dramatic change as well, with three glass-enclosed concession markets featuring grab-and-go technology and self-pouring beer kiosks. A walk-in Guest Services center, new restrooms, two walk-up bars, and a refurbished merchandise location will also fill out the space, while a more prominent “Row of Honor” will better amplify the active duty military members honored at each event.
“Throughout the planning of this project, we worked hard to positively impact every guest that comes to Gillette Stadium,” said Nolan, chief operating officer of KSE.
“From arrival to departure and through 360-degree access around the building, new food and beverage locations and menu offerings, premium spaces, the curved-radius videoboard, and more, the fan journey has been enhanced. We are eager for guests at Patriots and Revolution games and concerts and special events to experience and enjoy these transformational upgrades as we continue with our next twenty years in the stadium.”
The G-P Atrium, which will bridge the East and West Putnam Clubs and the Dell Technologies Suite levels, adds 50,000 square feet for hospitality and functions year-round. The glass-enclosed space will house three HD media walls and a two-tiered outdoor balcony that sits underneath the most prominent upgrade: the new video board.
Ferron and Nolan shared that the 22,200 square-foot video board will be the largest outdoor stadium video board in the country upon its completion. It spans almost half an acre and is more than five times the size of the board that formerly hung in the north end zone.
The iconic lighthouse is also much taller than its predecessor.
Standing 218 feet tall, it will offer Patriot Place patrons a 360-degree observation deck for uninterrupted views of the Boston and Providence skylines and can be accessed on non-game days.
The Bud Light Celebration Beer Hall, a new premium space at field level, boasts a 2,000-square-foot outdoor patio overlooking the end zone, and with retractable windows giving season ticket members a look into the bowels of Gillette Stadium, fans will have unprecedented access to look in as athletes leave the locker room to take the field.
“What’s unique there is while it has some outdoor patio features, similar to what we have in other spaces in the stadium, this is connected to the service tunnel where both the Patriots and Revolution players leave their locker room prior to the start of the game. So for fans that are inside the Celebration Beer Hall, they’re going to have this one-of-a-kind experience seeing the players as they’re getting hyped up and ready to take the field.”
Ground was broken on the project in January of 2022 after the completion of the NFL season, and crews have worked around the clock to have it ready for the first Patriots home game.
“We are on track and on schedule to be ready to open at the start of the regular season on September 10,” Ferron said.
“We couldn’t be more excited to show off all the work that’s been done and the work that is yet to be finished. It’s been about a year and a half in the making and we’re as close as we can be.”
Alexandra Francisco is a writer with Patriots.com.