FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - For just the fourth time in franchise history, and the first time in nine years (2002), the New England Patriots will be home for their final two games of the regular season. There is no place they would rather be for the holidays than with 68,756 of their closest friends at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots are eager to be home for the holidays because there is no place like Gillette Stadium for spreading holiday cheer. Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, Patriots fans have celebrated 65 regular season wins with just 13 losses. The team's winning percentage of .833 at home is not only the best in the NFL since 2002, but is also the best among any football venue in NFL history (minimum of 25 games).
With their Week 15 victory over the Denver Broncos last week, the Patriots clinched their third consecutive division title, their eighth in the last nine years. With it, the Patriots earned the right to host at least one playoff game next month, delivering Patriots fans their 14th home playoff game in the last 16 seasons. In the franchise's first 34 seasons, prior to Robert Kraft purchasing the team, Patriots fans only experienced one home playoff game.
The New England Patriots have been busy spreading cheer, both on and off the field, and hope to extend that throughout the holidays. Here are just a few of the examples of how the Patriots plan to celebrate the holiday season with their fans.
DECK THE HALL
Santa gets free admission to The Hall. On Saturday, Christmas Eve day, The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon will be open to the public from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. prior to the Patriots game against the Miami Dolphins. To celebrate the holiday, The Hall is offering all fans in Santa attire free admission (regularly $10 for adults).
HOLIDAYS AT THE HALL
Free collector's item for children 12 and under. Looking for things to do with the children during the holiday vacation week next week? Children 12 and under will receive a free copy of the Patriots' 2011 Yearbook with admission to The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon December 26 through January 1, 2012.
THREE CHEERS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Santa Suits. On Saturday, Patriots Cheerleaders will be spreading some holiday cheer by performing their routines dressed in their seasonal Santa suits.
Holiday Themed In-Stadium Entertainment. Fans can anticipate a number of holiday-themed songs for the season, as well as holiday greetings on the in-stadium video boards from some of their favorite players.
Ugly holiday sweater contest. The Patriots in-stadium entertainment will be looking for the most festive fans to show on the in-stadium video boards throughout the game. Seasonal sweaters are always a favorite.
Reporter-for-a-Day. For the next two games, the Patriots randomly selected a lucky Season Ticket Holder to be a "Reporter for a Day," giving a fan and a guest an opportunity to serve as a reporter for the day. They will be allowed to watch the game from the Patriots press box and attend the Patriots' post-game press conferences.
SPREADING HOLIDAY CHEER, ON AND OFF THE FIELD
Holiday cheer. Throughout the month of December, the Patriots have been spreading holiday cheer both on and off the field. On the field, the Patriots have given their fans a lot to celebrate by putting together an NFL-best six-game win streak. Off the field, the Patriots have been spreading cheer by participating in numerous community events, including visits to local hospitals and schools. Last week, the Patriots hosted 250 children during their annual children's holiday party and 15 players joined Robert Kraft, Pat Patriot and members of the Patriots Cheerleaders to play some "reindeer games" with the children, including the well-publicized "Wrap-A-Pat."
Earlier this week, 20 Patriots players were joined by Patriots alumni to participate in the annual "Gifts from the Gridiron" event, spreading holiday cheer by taking dozens of foster care children on a shopping spree at Bass Pro Shops.
Next week, Patriots players and alumni will spread some holiday cheer with a visit to HESSCO Elder Services in Foxborough where they will present Virginia Hartin with the Patriots Difference Maker of the Week medal as part of the season-long initiative to "Celebrate Volunteerism."