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Jonathan A. Kraft is the president of the Kraft Group, the holding company of the Kraft family's varied business interests. He is also the president of the four-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. As president of the Patriots, Kraft oversees the management and strategic planning of each department within the organization. He also works closely with his father to represent the Patriots in all league matters and serves on multiple NFL owner committees.
Kraft's NFL obligations are only a small part of his day-to-day responsibilities, which are as diversified as the many different companies he oversees. The Kraft Group has a variety of interests concentrated in six specific areas: the distribution of forest products, paper and packaging manufacturing, sports and entertainment, real estate development as well as private equity and venture investing. As president, Kraft is responsible for overseeing the operations of each division.
Since his family purchased the team in 1994, Kraft has been the day-to-day driving force behind the rebuilding and rebranding of the franchise, bringing long-overdue stability to the once wayward organization. It has been a remarkable transformation, as the Patriots have evolved from worst to first in many categories, both on and off the field.
Once tenants in the league's poorest venue, the Patriots now play in one of the NFL's premier stadiums. Once last in the league in revenues, the Patriots now rank among the league's elite. Once a cellar dweller, the Patriots are now a perennial power.
In the first 22 years of the Kraft family's ownership, the Patriots have won more games and more often than any other NFL team, and Kraft has successfully implemented many initiatives that have accelerated the franchise's many worst-to-first transitions.
From 2000-09, the Patriots set multiple NFL records and earned “Team of the Decade” acclaim from multiple publications. During the first decade of the new millennium, the Patriots established three NFL consecutive win streak records with a 10-game win streak in the postseason, a 21-game overall win streak (including playoff games) and a 21-game regular season win streak. The Patriots won 126 regular-season games, the most by an NFL team in one decade in the 96-year history of the league. The Patriots also became just the second team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years and finished the decade with more Super Bowl titles (3), conference titles (4), division titles (7), playoff wins (14), victories in a single season (18) and victories in a regular season (16) than any other team.
Of all the team's recent achievements, arguably the most significant contribution to the organization's future success was securing financial approval for the construction of a new world-class stadium, the first of its kind in the franchise's history. Kraft developed the creative private-financing strategy for the $325 million construction of Gillette Stadium. Many financial experts dismissed the viability of his plan, which relied on year-round club memberships for new clientele rather than the more conventional sale of private seat licenses to existing season ticket holders. Kraft's unprecedented plan was considered a financial risk, but proved to be universally successful.
Throughout the stadium initiative, no one was more involved in each phase of the project, including the planning, construction, opening and ongoing operation and development of Gillette Stadium. Kraft worked closely with stadium designers to create a world-class sports and entertainment facility that would highlight features indigenous to New England. His team not only delivered on the promise of a fan-friendly facility, but did so on time and under budget. Kraft feels strongly that Gillette Stadium needs to be continually evolving to meet the changing needs of fans. To that end, he was the creative force behind recent stadium enhancements including the Optum Field Lounge, the DraftKings Fantasy Sports Zone and the Cross Insurance Pavilion & Business Center.
Kraft and the project team also drew praise for innovative environmental practices. In June of 2001, the Environmental Business Council presented the Kraft Group with the Environmental Award for Corporate Leadership. In May of 2002, the Kraft Group received New England's Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the development and construction of Gillette Stadium.
In 2002, Jonathan and Robert Kraft received the Sports Industrialists of the Year award, presented annually by Sports Business Daily. The Krafts opened the year celebrating New England's first Super Bowl championship. They christened their new stadium just a few months later, earning various awards and acclaim for the project. They negotiated a new naming rights partnership with Gillette and celebrated a spectacular grand opening by hosting the 2002 season premiere of Monday Night Football as Super Bowl champions, presenting both the stadium and their 2001 Super Bowl banner to the fans of New England. One month later, the Krafts' Major League Soccer franchise, the New England Revolution, won the Eastern Conference to qualify for the MLS Cup, which drew over 61,000 fans to Gillette Stadium, the then-largest crowd in MLS history.
Prior to the Kraft family's ownership, the Patriots' fan base was limited in range and scope. As a lifelong Patriots fan, Kraft was committed to expanding the Patriots fan base through innovative multimedia outreach. Under his directive, the Patriots became the first professional sports team to launch an official web site in March of 1995. Just two years later, the team debuted the first use of streaming video, offering a nightly video update. The Patriots' other Internet initiatives include a highly successful e-commerce division, providing Patriots fans around the world easy access to Patriots merchandise and apparel. In 2004, the team showed their commitment to globalizing the Patriots brand when they launched the NFL's first Chinese-language version of their website. Entering the 2016 season, the Patriots have 228 registered fan clubs in 30 countries. The Patriots are also among the top teams in the NFL in terms of social media presence, with more than seven million Facebook fans and two million Twitter followers. As chair of the league's digital committee, Kraft continues to seek innovative ways to enhance the day of game experience for all Patriots fans. Gillette Stadium features one of the league's only ubiquitous WiFi solutions, allowing fans to stay connected throughout the game on their mobile devices. The Patriots' mobile app, which gives fans in-stadium access to live streaming of NFL RedZone, among other content, is one of the most advanced in the league.
In April of 1995, the Patriots began publishing Patriots Football Weekly, the first full-color weekly publication offered by a sports team. It appears on newsstands throughout New England and is distributed to Patriots fans throughout the world. In September of 2011, the team launched the iPad-version of PFW, making the Patriots one of the first sports teams in the world to publish a subscription-based digital publication. Following the Super Bowl XXXVI championship, Kraft commissioned the production of a DVD entitled “3 Games to Glory,” providing fans an opportunity to re-live three of the most memorable games in franchise history. Since then, he has overseen the production of its sequels, “3 Games to Glory II,” “3 Games to Glory III,” and “3 Games to Glory IV,” each featuring over five hours of behind-the-scenes content on a two-disc DVD set. The Patriots are the only NFL team to produce and sell such extensive commemorative DVDs.
A graduate of Williams College (1986), Kraft is a Trustee Emeritus and also chairs the school's investment committee. Additionally, he received his MBA from Harvard Business School (1990), where he currently serves on the dean's board of advisors. Kraft is on the board of trustees for Belmont Hill School, Dexter Southfield and Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also chairs the finance committee.
Kraft is active in youth athletics and has coached Pop Warner Football, youth soccer and Little League baseball in the greater Boston area. He is also a member of the national Board of Directors for Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.
Jonathan and his wife, Patti, have three children.