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Laying the groundwork

The Patriots passed another milestone for the new stadium project today when the first concrete was poured as part of the foundation. Construction crews have been working on site preparation and digging diligently since February, but today marked the first noticeable advancement in the project.

Patriots Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Wasynczuk spoke at the site in front of the gathered media and expressed the organization's excitement with the progress.

"Now fans who come to watch the first week of training camp here in July will be able to see the stadium construction," he said. "Until now, there really wasn't a whole lot to see. But everything is progressing as we hoped and we're still shooting for a soft opening for the stadium in April 2002."

Training camp is set to open on July 17 at the stadium's practice fields behind the construction area. The first week of workouts will be held there before the team moves to Bryant College in Smithfield, R.I., for the remainder of camp.

The April 2002 date coincides with the New England Revolution's schedule. At that point, the lower bowl of the stadium will be opened but the facility won't be completed until the fall of that year for the opening of the Patriots season.

Wasynczuk said that three quarters of the dirt (about 300,000 cubic yards) that needs to be moved has been and that most of it will be reused as fill in other areas of the site. About a quarter of that was solid rock and had to be blasted by work crews throughout the past couple of months.

"The progress has been excellent," Wasynczuk said. "We have a balanced schedule and we have the advantage of controlling our site. We do have events here occasionally that we need to deal with and tough winter weather, but we don't have the problems in dealing with moving work crews around the inner city and things of that nature."

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