FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Dec. 29, 2014) – For the fifth consecutive season, the New England Patriots have been recognized by TEAM Coalition as the top team in the National Football League for designated driver pledges. More than 27,000 fans in the stands at Gillette Stadium pledged to be designated drivers and ensure a safe ride home from the game for friends and family in 2014. The Patriots again finished the season in the top spot among all NFL teams and have finished first every year since 2010.
Starting in 2009, the New England Patriots, the New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers and TEAM Coalition came together to educate fans about the importance of using a designated driver, buckling up and demonstrating positive fan behavior. The message is simple: "Be a HERO, Be a Designated Driver."
Arbella Insurance Foundation joined the other organizations in 2013 as a proud partner of the designated driver program at Gillette Stadium.
"We're proud that Patriots fans recognize the importance of safe and responsible behavior, both inside the stadium and on the roads," said Jim Nolan, New England Patriots senior vice president of operations, finance and administration. "After leading the league in this designated driver campaign for the past four years, we were thrilled to see participation continue to grow at Gillette Stadium. This year, we enjoyed a 40 percent increase over 2013. It is great to see so many fans accepting the responsibility of being a designated driver and enjoying the game responsibly."
The United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been a long-time supporter of TEAM Coalition, the HERO Campaign and both non-profits' efforts to support the Patriots designated driver program at Gillette Stadium. The timing of the Patriots final regular season home game is aligned with NHTSA's national enforcement efforts to discourage drunk driving under the campaign, "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over." More than 10,000 participating police departments and law enforcement agencies will be out in force this holiday season to protect the public and get drunk drivers off our roads as part of the campaign. "Last year, 10,076 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers and knowing that these deaths are 100 percent preventable, that's exactly 10,076 too many," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Safety is a shared responsibility and the New England Patriots fans committed to serving as designated drivers this season are our Most Valuable Players today because they are saving lives."
"The HERO Campaign is proud to be associated with the New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium and our partners in promoting the use of designated drivers in memory of our son John," said Bill Elliott, chairman of the HERO Campaign. "A designated driver is truly a hero by keeping others safe on the way home after the game. Our goal is to register a million designated drivers nationwide and make the use of designated drivers as automatic as wearing a seatbelt. Congratulations to the Patriots for registering more than 111,000 designated drivers throughout New England since our partnership began."
"Arbella's Foundation has long been committed to promoting safe driving," said John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group, and chairman and president of the Arbella Insurance Foundation. "That's why we're proud to partner with the Patriots in their efforts to keep fans safe behind the wheel. We want everyone to be able to enjoy a game at Gillette and get home safely."
Patriots fans who pledged and demonstrated responsible behavior at any Patriots home game throughout the season received a complimentary soft drink, a "Be a Hero" game day giveaway and a chance to be selected as the Designated Driver for the Game. At each home game, the Designated Driver for the Game was recognized with a pregame visit on the field. In addition, the Patriots rewarded a second designated driver each game with a $100 gift card to a Patriot Place restaurant that supports the HERO Campaign.
At the Dec. 28 season finale against the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots recognized Ray Martel as the Patriots' Designated Driver of the Year. Martel was joined for a pregame ceremony on the field by Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Nolan, Richard Farley of NFL Security, Foxborough Town Manager Bill Keegan, Foxborough Police Chief Ed O'Leary, Captain Paul D'Amore and Lieutenant Timothy Curtin of the Massachusetts State Police, Chief Investigator Ted Mahony from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, Denise Hladun from The HERO Campaign, Brian Earley from Patriot Place and Jessica Thurston from TEAM Coalition.
If the Patriots advance to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, AZ, on Feb. 1, 2015, then Martel will attend the game as the grand prize winner of the sweepstakes component of the "Responsibility Has Its Rewards" campaign, a league-wide effort supporting designated driver programs with all 32 NFL teams.
"Fans who pledge to be designated drivers are critical to the success of the Responsibility Has Its Rewards campaign," said Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition. "Teamwork is exactly what this campaign is all about. Through this program, we are demonstrating that when everyone – including the fans – takes responsibility, everyone wins."
The designated driver program is just one component of the fan behavior initiatives offered by the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Other components include:
- A Fan Code of Conduct posted in and around Gillette Stadium
- Text messaging (text "CONDUCT" message to 78247) that empowers fans to anonymously report disruptive behavior to security
- Certification of over 600 employees across every department operating in Gillette Stadium in effective alcohol management training
- Alcohol service policies, including ID checks for all fans, no more than two alcoholic beverages per person per transaction and alcohol cut-off at 15 minutes into the third quarter
About TEAM Coalition
TEAM Coalition is an alliance of professional and collegiate sports, entertainment facilities, concessionaires, stadium service providers, the beer industry, distillers, broadcasters, governmental traffic safety experts, and others working together to promote responsible drinking and positive fan behavior at sports and entertainment facilities. TEAM's members and supporters include the National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, NASCAR, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, National Collegiate Athletic Association, ARAMARK, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, Ovations Food Services, Beer Institute, National Beer Wholesalers Association, Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Brown-Forman, Live Nation, National Association of Broadcasters, Contemporary Services Corporation, Elite, International Association of Venue Managers, Stadium Managers Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For more information, please visit www.teamcoalition.org
About The HERO Campaign
The HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers was launched by the Elliott family in August of 2000 in memory of their son, John's, tragic death at the hands of a drunken driver. The purpose of the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers® is to promote the use of sober designated drivers to prevent drunken driving tragedies throughout our country. In cooperation with schools, businesses, law enforcement agencies and other community-based organizations, we ask you to help keep drunk drivers off our highways. For more information, please visit www.herocampaign.org
About the Arbella Insurance Group and the Arbella Insurance Foundation
Established in 1988, the Arbella Insurance Group (www.arbella.com) is a company with over $600M in revenue with approximately $1B in assets, headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts. Arbella is a customer-focused regional property and casualty insurance company, providing personal and business insurance in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and business insurance in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Arbella Insurance Group founded the Arbella Insurance Foundation in 2004. The mission of Arbella's Foundation is to engage in activities and to support not-for-profit organizations that have a significant positive impact on the people and communities served by Arbella.
About the New England Patriots
The Patriots were founded in Boston in 1960 as the eighth and final American Football League (AFL) franchise in the AFL's inaugural season. The AFL merged with the National Football League (NFL) in 1970 and moved to Foxborough, Mass. in 1971. In 1994, Robert Kraft purchased the team and transformed it into one of the league's premier franchises. Since Kraft's arrival, every Patriots home game has sold out, propelling the Patriots to more overall wins, division titles, conference crowns and Super Bowl championships than any other team during his tenure. Since 2002, when the Patriots moved into the privately-financed Gillette Stadium, the team has celebrated one of the most dominant eras in professional sports by establishing one of the greatest home-field records of all-time. For more information, visit www.patriots.com.