Foxboro(ugh!): Where Visiting N.F.L. Teams Hate to Play

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — inside N.F.L. community, one word might be feared more than any some other: Foxborough.

This particular is usually where the rosy Super Bowl dreams of visiting teams die a frosty death each January. This particular is usually where the brand new England Patriots, before a raucous southeastern Massachusetts home crowd, rarely lose a playoff game (This particular century’s postseason record there is usually 19-3).

This particular is usually where N.F.L. road teams are not only defeated, nevertheless rejected under peculiar circumstances. See: Deflategate, Tom Brady as well as the tuck rule.

How did out-of-the way, tiny-town Foxborough, of all places, come to be synonymous with heartache in N.F.L. cities by coast to coast while blossoming into a shrine to comprehensive Patriots glory?

The Patriots, after all, came to Foxborough in 1971 only because no one else wanted them. This particular helped that will the stadium land, 30 miles south of Boston, was free.

Foxborough (population: 17,000) remains firmly rooted in its pre-Patriots past, with dairy cows visible by the top of Gillette Stadium. Without a doubt, Foxborough is usually the oddest place to bear witness to recurring N.F.L. history, simply because no one here can agree on how to spell the town’s name.

Since 1778, by decree, in all authorized documents as well as on all town buildings, This particular has been spelled Foxborough. nevertheless almost immediately after that will became official, many institutions inside town — banks, businesses, even the local newspaper — decided This particular was easier to go by Foxboro. In a quintessential example of brand new England persistence, the argument has endured for centuries: There are currently signs with both spellings throughout the village.

However the name is usually spelled, Foxborough residents know their little municipality is usually renowned far as well as wide.

“I’ve done training across the country,” Tom Buckley, the town’s deputy fire chief, said. “When I’m asked where I live, I never mention the Patriots. I just say Foxborough. as well as instantly, everyone starts talking to me about the Patriots as well as how they always win there.

“Does that will happen with any some other N.F.L. team? I mean, I don’t know where the Miami Dolphins play, even though I know This particular’s not Miami.”

The Patriots, unbeaten in their last eight home playoff games, will put that will streak on the line Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Chargers in an A.F.C. divisional playoff game. The Patriots, who have won several Super Bowls since the 2001 season, have had, for them, an uneven season, losing several of eight away games. nevertheless they were the only N.F.L. team to be 8-0 at home, a substantial source of pride in Foxborough.

“inside town, we feel like we bring a different type of energy at those home games,” David Tynan, a longtime Foxborough resident, said on Wednesday outside the town’s primary grocery store. “Game days are like holidays. By kickoff, the streets are quiet — you’re either at the stadium or inside watching the game.”

Because there are few hills, trees or some other buildings near Gillette Stadium, the landscape is usually windswept in January as well as bracing, with temperatures typically inside 20s. The Patriots intentionally built their practice facility adjacent to the stadium, as well as they almost always practice outside, acclimating to the elements in a way that will their playoff opponents — by mostly warmer regions — cannot. The atmosphere in Gillette Stadium is usually also especially hostile to visiting teams, as Patriots home crowds are considered among the most vociferous inside N.F.L.

Rich Noonan, a lieutenant inside Police Department as well as a fifth-generation native of Foxborough, recalled the town’s blue-collar origins as well as said area fans “were protecting their home turf.”

Noonan laughed, as well as added: “nevertheless so much has changed. When I was a kid, they couldn’t give away tickets. They opened the stadium gates at halftime as well as let anyone in.”

Indeed, the Patriots’ earliest days in Foxborough were as undistinguished as their first 11 years as the vagabond Boston Patriots of the American Football League. Beginning in 1960, those unheralded Patriots practiced on grassless high school fields as well as played games at Boston University, Harvard University, Boston College as well as Fenway Park. With the A.F.L.-N.F.L. merger in 1970, the Patriots needed a sizable stadium as a permanent home, as well as after talks with Boston city leaders repeatedly broke down, Billy Sullivan, the team’s owner, welcomed an offer by Bay State Raceway, which donated land next to its facility for a 60,000-seat stadium.

The Patriots won their first game at the stadium in 1971, although thousands of ticket holders never saw an individual play because they were stuck for the entirety of the game in gridlock traffic that will crammed Route 1, the only access road to the stadium.

Shortly after the first game, the local health board closed Schaefer Stadium because of malfunctioning toilets. Various solutions were tried, including an exercise that will enlisted hundreds of volunteers to flush all of the stadium toilets simultaneously — a tactic referred to as Super Flush inside local news media. Fans came up with another name for the site: the Toilet Bowl.

“This particular was a nightmare at times,” Jack Authelet, the Foxborough town historian, said. “The stadium would certainly be closed, This particular would certainly get a reprieve for one game, as well as then there would certainly be another closing. Another last-minute reprieve would certainly allow a game to be played, then This particular would certainly close again. This particular went on week after week.”

When the games did go on, the crowds drank heavily, so much in order that will Foxborough prohibited the stadium by hosting “Monday Night Football” because of the tumult that will ensued after dark. as well as when the Patriots were not playing, the stadium hosted dozens of rock concerts, where pervasive drug as well as alcohol use caused nearby hospitals to fill with patients.

Foxborough, that has a pastoral common at its center, was wondering what This particular had gotten itself into. nevertheless over time, as well as with some prudent strategizing, the traffic problems diminished.

Restrictions on events were imposed to make them safer as well as calmer. The Sullivan family lost control of the team, as well as the stadium was renamed Foxboro Stadium — not Foxborough — as well as by 1994, the businessman Robert K. Kraft had bought the team. Kraft knew he needed a modern stadium, as well as in 1998 seriously flirted with taking the Patriots to Hartford.

Eventually, a deal was struck to build what is usually currently Gillette Stadium, next to the site of the old stadium. The Patriots won their first Super Bowl in an upset months before Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. The last game at Foxboro Stadium was a controversial, come-by-behind, overtime playoff victory known as the Tuck Rule Game, in which an apparent brand new England fumble became an incomplete pass as well as saved the day for the Patriots. The home Foxborough magic was born.

“All of a sudden, we had the Super Bowl champions as well as a real professional stadium,” said Mike Kelleher, a lifelong Foxborough resident as well as the town’s incoming fire chief. “that will’s when everything changed around here. Before a 1 o’clock game, we would certainly see every parking lot totally full with tailgaters by 10 a.m.”

The vibe was transformed. The home victories became a badge of honor for the locals.

“currently you hear This particular all the time: This particular is usually Foxborough; the Patriots don’t lose here,” said Waylon Krueger, who moved by Buffalo three years ago. “This particular’s a given. Look, I’m a Bills fan. I wish we had that will.”

Hosting the Patriots has also been enormously helpful for the town’s municipal budget, even though the stadium site is usually just a sliver of Foxborough along commercially dense Route 1, where Kraft’s holding company constructed a mall next to the stadium.

Foxborough receives a portion of each ticket sold to events at Gillette Stadium, which amounts to $2.5 million to $3 million annually, according to the town manager, William Keegan. that will total is usually at least doubled by some other taxes generated by the Patriots’ presence in town. In addition, the Patriots make six-figure charitable donations annually to Foxborough.

inside last 10 to 15 years, the town’s demographic makeup has been altered. Foxborough has had an influx of home buyers with corporate jobs who commute to Boston as well as Providence, R.I., which is usually a little more than 20 miles to the south. Larger homes have sprouted on tree-lined streets, some of them aimed at housing millionaire football players employed nearby.

More than half the Patriots’ roster lives in Foxborough, as well as many some other players live in surrounding towns.

“I’m impressed with the intensity of the fan support in Foxborough; This particular’s almost like a college football town,” said Patriots center David Andrews, who lives in town. “as well as people make us feel welcome. They invite us to their homes for the holidays.”

Because This particular is usually inescapable, Andrews has noticed the town’s dual spelling. nevertheless he would certainly not wade into the 241-year-old squabble over This particular.

The dispute may not rise to the level of bar fights, nevertheless there are strong opinions.

“You spell This particular long or you spell This particular wrong,” said Buckley, whose firefighter’s uniform features a Foxborough patch.

Authelet, the town historian, supports the longer spelling as well. nevertheless the license plate on his car reads: FOXBRO.

Massachusetts allows personalized plates to have no more than six letters, so he did the best he could.

A few years ago, Authelet was waiting in his car at a stoplight in Philadelphia when another car pulled alongside. The driver honked his horn as well as held up a sign.

“The guy had written on a piece of paper: Cheaters,” Authelet said, well aware of the rules controversies christened Spygate as well as Deflategate that will have dogged Coach Bill Belichick’s team through the years.

“that will kind of reaction happens; This particular’s a fact,” Authelet said that has a smile. “nevertheless most people tell me that will I live in a sports lover’s paradise where the home team almost always wins.

“A lot of towns would certainly like to trade places.”