Foxborough, MA – "We're not supposed to talk about Super Bowls in [the stadium]," joked Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft at a press conference Wednesday. This occasion was a departure from the norm, however, since the media was gathered to hear why high schools would get the chance to compete at the home of the New England Patriots. Representatives from the MIAA were on hand to announce that Gillette Stadium would play host to six of the seven MIAA EMASS Super Bowls for at least the next three seasons. The 2007 Super Bowls will kick off at the stadium on December 1, 2007.
"We're thrilled that we were able to come together and be able to do this with the MIAA," said Kraft. "Since our family bought this team, we have wanted to do everything we can to encourage all youth sports, but especially football. We wanted to have the high school Super Bowl games played here at Gillette Stadium because we can still identify with our youth and remember the thrill of going to the different venues. So we're really happy to announce that this coming Dec. 1, we'll have 12 teams that will be playing here."
MIAA Executive Director Dick Neal explained that the league has had trouble finding adequate venues to host these memorable and exciting games.
"We really had no choices as recently as last year," he said. "There were only a limited number of venues available. We had to use them. Some of them were not ideal but they were the best available. We had to turn people away at a couple venues last year. Parking has been horrible, but the field condition is good so we've played there."
The games will likely begin early that Saturday morning, and the league hopes to fit each game into two-hour time slots. The competing teams will have access to the practice facilities for warm-ups, and special measures will be taken to insure the games are completed in a timely manner – such as cutting the length of each quarter to 10 minutes. The seventh MIAA game will be played at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., for the 2007 season, and that one division that doesn't play at Gillette will likely be rotated.
"It's impractical to play seven games all in that one day, so we'll have to leave a pair of teams out," said Neal.
As for the decision about which division won't play its Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, Neal said they're still ironing out some specifics.
"We haven't gotten that far, but clearly you'd want to have the larger games here because you'd want to accommodate the fans of those teams," he said. "We wouldn't be sending the larger games and crowds someplace else."
Kraft explained that Gillette wasn't able to host these games prior to this season. It wasn't until FieldTurf was installed in place of the natural grass turf last November that the idea became an option. While the agreement only has Super Bowls through 2009 being played at Gillette Stadium, Mr. Kraft said he hopes this will become a Massachusetts tradition.
"Our hope is that (high school) Super Bowls, at least as long as I'm living, are played here," said the Brookline High grad. "And it's also in keeping with what we hope to do here at Patriot Place. We will be recording all events that happen in high school football at The Hall at Patriot Place. We hope to honor every team that wins the Super Bowl each year there, and also hopefully 50 or 100 years from now as relatives come back, they'll be able to use our files and The Hall at Patriot Place to see their relatives and how they played football earlier on."