Patriot Games: NFL Team Is in Play for Meetings

Just steps from where the New England Patriots' three Super Bowl championship banners flutter over Gillette Stadium, the new Patriot Place retail and entertainment district in Foxboro, MA, offers an entire playbook's worth of meetings venues—and a Renaissance hotel is almost ready to join the team.

Located about halfway between Boston and Providence, the 1.3-million-sf Patriot Place intends to be a year-round attraction. The 150-room Renaissance Patriot Place Hotel & Spa will have some event spaces but will largely rely on Patriot Place and Gillette Stadium offerings—ranging from a private dining room at a high-end Italian restaurant to the football field itself.

"We're one of the few [sports] teams that control all elements of the stadium, so you have a one-stop shop from a planning standpoint," said David Pearlstein, VP of market integration and events for the Patriots and Patriot Place. "You'll have one event planner to work with on events in the stadium, at Patriot Place, or anywhere on the property."

The Renaissance hotel, slated to open early in the year, will anchor the eastern end of an open-air mall with shops like Fossil, Godiva, and Reebok, as well as best-of-Boston restaurants like Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse and Skipjack's Seafood Emporium.

The promenade's western end is dominated by a Cinema De Lux movie theater complex that includes the 16,000-sf Showcase Live concert venue and the three-level CBS Scene restaurant and sports bar, which has 135 customizable video screens and a fully equipped broadcast facility. The 14-screen cineplex also offers Lux Level, an upstairs space with a cocktail bar, plush balcony seating, and F&B service. Individual theaters (120 to 360 seats) and Lux Level are available for meetings and private movie screenings.

"You can do PowerPoint presentations, sneak previews of movies—groups can put anything on the screen," said Wanda Whitson, a Cinema De Lux spokesperson.

Showcase Live has a 52-foot bar and a professional stage and sound setup. It can seat 500 for dinner in a nightclub setting or hold 1,000 standing for private concerts.

Meanwhile, for events, there is a plaza that overlooks the stadium, as well as the Hall at Patriot Place, a 36,000-sf interactive museum honoring Patriot players and housing artifacts like the team's trio of NFL championship trophies. The museum's Grand Hall can seat 125 for dinner, and guests are free to view exhibits and a movie on the Patriots' history on a 48-foot panoramic screen.

Pearlstein said while events and meetings have been held at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002, the addition of Patriot Place gives it a true destination feeling. "In the past, you had your event and went on your way," he said. "Now, we can tie it into a tour of the stadium, the Hall at Patriot Place, or dinner at CBS Scene."

Some groups have already booked weeklong itineraries that include nightly activities like dinner on the Gillette Stadium field and an outdoor barbecue at Patriot Place's Lower Plaza. According to Pearlstein, most group business will be from the Northeast, including outings by groups meeting in Boston or Providence.

Within Gillette Stadium, function spaces available on non-game days include the 47,000-sf atrium within the Fidelity Clubhouse for up to 5,000 attendees; a 13,000-sf clubhouse lounge that can be set up theater- or classroom-style for groups of 300; the EMC2 executive conference center, which overlooks the playing field and holds 70; and 90 luxury suites, which can be breakout rooms. In-house catering is available for groups up to 2,000.

Team-building events are a natural, as planners can make use of the stadium floor, the adjacent Dana Farber Field House—the Patriots' indoor practice facility— and even the GameStop retail store, which has two dozen videogame systems set up for competitions. Patriot coaches are available to speak to groups about teamwork, and team officials like Scott Pioli can discuss business strategy. Patriot players, alumni, and cheerleaders can be booked for engagements, as well.

In addition to the football field, outdoor event spaces at Patriot Place include the Upper Plaza overlooking the rear of the stadium, the Lower Plaza at the stadium gates and team's hall of fame, a rooftop bar, and an outdoor deck at CBS Scene.

Originally published Jan. 5, 2009