FOXBOROUGH — Work has already begun, but on Wednesday the Kraft family held a groundbreaking ceremony for its $225 million privately financed renovation of the north end of Gillette Stadium.
The project will enclose the north end of the stadium with year-round hospitality and function space and a massive videoboard hanging over the field. Outside, a rebuilt 21-story lighthouse will allow visitors, on a clear day, to glimpse a view of both downtown Boston and Providence, said Robert Kraft, founder and CEO of The Kraft Group.
Having spent $300 million in the first 20 years of the stadium, the new investment in the NFL’s only privately funded stadium reflects the family’s confidence and commitment to its fans, said Kraft.
“I think in the world we’re living in today, a sense of community happens at the various stadiums, there’s no partisanship, except who’s going to win or lose,” said Kraft. “So, we’ve invested a lot here, and this is like our home in the New England region. We are always going to do everything we can to make it first class, and I think when you see the renovation in the end zone, it’s going to be something we all can be very proud of.”
The stadium cost approximately $350 million to build, with $300 million spent on renovations and $350 million for Patriot Place. The $225 million price-tag for this latest renovation lifts the Krafts’ expenditures to $1.2 billion on their Foxborough property.
Globalization Partners is the new naming rights holder of the 50,000-square foot Atrium space.
Kraft said that the money spent on this renovation does not impact the Kraft Group’s long-stated desire and efforts to build a new and no-doubt expensive stadium for the New England Revolution that’s in or near downtown Boston.
“We’re going to get something done I hope, one way or another — we have to,” said Kraft.
The Gillette Stadium project is expected to be completed before the start of the 2023 season.
“We have to give [fans] a place to come that’s worthy of their support and we did it for so many years,” said Kraft. “I think they’re going to love it when they see this scoreboard and this club. It’s going to be very special.”
The 22,000-square foot scoreboard, said the club, will be the largest outdoor stadium high-definition video board in the country.
In the 20 years since Gillette Stadium has opened, more than 21 million people have attended ticketed events.
The stadium is vying to host some of the 2026 FIFA World Cup games. A decision on that is expected by the summer.
Asked to reflect on the first 20 years of business at Gillette Stadium, Kraft laughed at the thought, “All the aggravation that we went through,” he said.
He had bought the team in 1994, and tried at first to build a stadium in downtown Boston. When that failed, the team toyed with a move to Hartford, Conn., before the Gillette Stadium deal was finalized.
Two decades later, said Kraft, “In the end, maybe it’s good. We don’t have to check in with anybody here and we’re doing something pretty special. We have no parking problem. If there’s a way we can double up Route 1, that would be good. But otherwise, we’re honored to be here, in an envious position.”
Michael Silverman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.