After spending perhaps hundreds of games at Foxboro Stadium, I spent this evening at the new home, Gillette Stadium. As I made my way to the seat, it occurred to me that this experience was very much like starting at a new school. I looked around at the faces besides me and made quick judgements about my season-long compatibility with them. I searched for the nearest bathroom, hall monitor, and cafeteria. After being accustomed to the old stadium for so long, it will certainly take a lot of getting used to. In some ways, it felt like I was at an away game. I'm sure as the season progresses, I will get used to my new surroundings.
As for the stadium, it comes as advertised. In my view, the three favorite features are the wide concourses, the excellent sound system, and the fact that every seat is positioned towards the fifty yard line. However, I am not convinced the amount of restrooms will prove adequate. The condition and quantity of the world-famous Foxboro Stadium rest rooms was well known. Tonight, it was quite humorous to see the reaction of patrons as they walked into the brand new sparkling restrooms only to see the same old-fashioned lines.
Oh yes, there was a game tonight. Keeping in mind this is the Carolina Panthers, the defense played impeccably well. I was especially impressed with the run defense. #60 in your program(who has time for research?) made some excellent run tackles and could be a sleeper for the squad. Also turning in an impressive performance was middle linebacker #47 Maguela Tuitele. After Tedy Bruschi went down early in the game, Tuitele stepped in, called the signals, and was generally around the ball. I would keep an eye on him as well. As bad as the offense was in the first half (and they were bad, really bad), they were that good in the second half. The first-team's second half performance, including two nice touchdown drives, saved the masses from leaping off the fake Longfellow Bridge in the north end zone. I have to say that I continue to feel more comfortable with Damon Huard after another strong outing. Lastly, both Givens and Farris made a couple of nice plays to help each of their cases for that fifth receiver spot.
Now onto everybody's favorite part of my column, the zingers......
During the game, Gino coined a new phrase "Vina-territory" to describe Adam Vinatieri's field goal range. Expect this one to catch on.
I'm sorry, but $11 for a McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder Meal "Deal" looks like price gouging to me.
Conversely, Patriots jerseys are $45 in the Stadium. According to my research (I have indeed had the time to research this topic), this is much cheaper than your average sporting goods store.
A good rule for the upper deck would be that no kids under 10 should be allowed to sit in the first row. Sitting in the second row, I saw a few uncool, unsupervised moves that made my heart skip a beat including a parent holding a kid over the edge so he could see down below. Yikes!
According to my brother's count, the PA sound system played about fifteen, yes fifteen, Aerosmith songs. I like Aersomith as much as they next guy but, geez, give it a rest. How about throwing in a little AC/DC, guys?
Lastly, remember the point of this experience is to be entertained. I'll do my best to keep that in mind.
Go Worcester Little Leaguers! You are an inspiration to all of us, young and old.