When the New England Patriots kicked off the 2014 NFL season in Miami on Sept. 7, it marked the start of Robert Kraft's 21st season as the team's owner. If this season is anything like most of the first 20, Patriots fans should buckle up for an exciting ride.
The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon has launched a new exhibit that looks back at Kraft's first 20 years owning the team he cheered for since its founding in 1960. The exhibit is titled New England Faithful: 20 Seasons with the Krafts and highlights the team's and the owner's amazing accomplishments over two decades.
"We are excited about this exhibit," Hall executive director Bryan Morry said. "When you compare the pre-1994 Patriots to what has happened over the past 20 years, the turnaround is nothing short of spectacular. The Patriots were a pathetic 19-61 between 1989 and 1993. When Robert Kraft bought the team he said he would make the decisions necessary to bring a championship to New England. He lived up to that word three times over and it is quite appropriate for us to look back at those first 20 years and appreciate the success.
"I think we get caught up sometimes in the result of the last game or the last season and we often commit our emotions to each game as if it is its own little Super Bowl. But 20 years is a perfect time to not only take a step back and reflect on how far the Patriots have come but also allow a smile at the success under the Kraft family's ownership," Morry added.
That on-field success is evident in the numbers. Since Kraft bought the Patriots in 1994, no NFL team has won more games (238), more division titles (13), more conference titles (6) or more Super Bowl championships (3) than the New England Patriots. Additionally, the team and its fans have established a bond mostly unseen between 1960 and 1993. That bond is why every home game during the Kraft era has been sold out and why there is a lengthy waiting list for season tickets.
The exhibit touches on Robert Kraft's purchase of the team and its rise to prominence in the NFL and all of sports. Of all teams in major American professional sports since 1994, only the NBA's San Antonio Spurs have a higher winning percentage than the Patriots.
Back in 1994, the Patriots played their home games in a dilapidated stadium that lacked fan and player amenities. Today, they play in majestic Gillette Stadium, which was privately financed by the Kraft family without charging fans personal seat license fees. The new stadium was built with the fans in mind and also added necessary, modern player amenities while creating a new revenue stream to help the Patriots better compete in free agency.
The Krafts also have had a major influence in league matters over the last 20 years whether negotiating lucrative television contracts or driving technology innovation on a league level. But Robert's influence was never more prominent than in 2011 when he stepped in to help resolve a lockout that threatened the season.
The family's community philanthropy has always been a major component of its ownership tenure as has professional soccer. The Patriots Charitable Foundation has donated millions of dollars to local charities since 1994. Foxborough has also been home to Major League Soccer's New England Revolution as well as host to World Cup soccer.
The exhibit also features a video highlighting Robert Kraft as the Patriots owner.