The latest milestone in the construction of CMGI Field was unveiled by Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Wednesday with the installation of the stadium's pre-cast concrete seating bowl.
With a media contingent on hand to recognize the one-year anniversary of the beginning of construction, Kraft, Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci and several other dignitaries gathered as the first of approximately 1,600 pieces of the seating bowl was lifted by crane and installed just above the main concourse area of the new stadium.
"We wanted to find a way to try and solidify this franchise for the long term in this region," Kraft said. "We're now standing in a situation where, a year ago, this was a cracked parking lot with lots of potholes. Today we are standing in this edifice that, in completion next year, will be one million, eight thousand square feet. We feel it will be the finest stadium ever built in this country, and we're happy to say that it has been 100 percent privately financed."
Cellucci said the progress of the stadium is a credit to Kraft's ability put the deal together on the strength of private financing.
"This has been a co-operative effort with the state and the town, and most importantly, with the private sector represented by Bob Kraft and the New England Patriots," Cellucci said. "This is an outstanding example of when the state invests infrastructure dollars to leverage private sector investments for the benefit of the economy of the Massachusetts.
"I think that is a good use of state funds. It keeps the New England Patriots here, and the economic impact that this football team, the soccer team and all the other activities that will go on in this stadium, here in Massachusetts. That means jobs. That means economic benefits for the people of this region and for the people of this state."
In addition to Cellucci, Sen. Jo Ann Sprague, Rep. Michael Coppola and selectmen Charlie Masision and Kevin Weinfled from the town of Foxborough were also in attendance. Kraft said the citizens and politicians, both locally and statewide, were to be thanked for the progress of CMGI Stadium. He also thanked the Patriots fans, who have sold out each game for the last seven seasons.
"Thanks to the residents and people of Foxborough, who have welcomed the team here for three decades," Kraft said. "Last year they voted overwhelmingly to keep us here with 98 percent of the community vote.
"This also couldn't have happened without the cooperation of the political establishment in Massachusetts. Our family would not have committed more than $300 million to this project unless we had the infrastructure necessary to get people to be able to get in and out of this environment."
Patriots Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Wasynczuk said the stadium project was on schedule despite the recent snow storm. He also said fans would be able to see CMGI Field up close this summer.
"Being where we are at this point, we are a lot more confident that the timeline for next spring for the soccer season is very doable," Wasynczuk said. "There are clearly going to be some things that we do out here in the summer for the fans. We want to get them out here so they can have a sense and real feeling of ownership over what is going on. What we hope to have is tours of the stadium once we have a safe enough environment here."
The next major goals for the stadium project include the new parking lots, onsite roadways and pedestrian walkways. Those tasks are slated to begin by the end of March. By the end of April, construction of the concession stands and bathrooms on the concourses will begin.