By Lisa K. Berton
"Football was born in New England," according to the film The Cradle of Football by NFL Films. The video goes on to educate viewers that in 1862 the first organized football team was created in Boston, MA. Sit on one of a few seats to watch the video on the third floor of The Hall, in the aptly named, New England Football area. In fact, the third floor is where your experience begins.
Located in the back of the Patriots Pro Shop is the ticket window. Purchase your admission and take the elevator straight up to the third floor where you'll don a football helmet large enough for an entire team and their friends. You'll hear what's it's like to walk onto the field as you slowly stride through the helmet/tunnel. Included on this level is a plethora of former Patriots players' memorabilia, interactive quizzes, and the Raytheon Theater; a 100+ seated cinema showing the 20-minute movie, Patriot Way, narrated by actor/professor Avery Brooks. It is a fascinating film documenting the New England Patriots' history of successes and failures including appearances from local sportscasters and former team members.
Additionally on the third floor is space for temporary exhibits. Currently, the drawings and story behind the much-loved mascot, Pat Patriot are on display, along with memorabilia and a video interview with his cartoonist creator, Phil Bissell. What's great about this collection is it appeals to Patriots fans, artists, and pop culture enthusiasts alike.
Head down to the second level by elevator or stairs and behold Robert Kraft's enlarged check dated January 21, 1994, to North Sports Holding in the amount of 15 million dollars to purchase the New England Patriots. Suit up like your favorite player in the locker room, put your jumping skills to the test, try kicking a football, and participate in additional offerings at Inside the Game and The Super Bowl Experience. Admire the five Vince Lombardi trophies and Super Bowl championship rings. Then head back down to the Pro Shop and shop to your heart's content.
Allow yourself roughly 2 hours to get through all the exhibits. Parking is free at Patriot Place, however, if you try parking near Gillette Stadium the day of a home game, you may be charged. Check The Hall's website for the current schedule and the Patriots' website for their schedule as well.