The Gillette Stadium experience: MPF attends Patriots vs. Bills season opener as Verizon's guest

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As I've written before, weird stuff crosses my Inbox on a regular basis.  Some, I simply discard and a few merit further investigation.  Like, "Please sit through an hour demo and we'll give you food and a ticket to the season opener."  Uhhmm, what?  It could've easily been a hoax, but through more correspondence, I felt like it was legit.  So, I thought about it for all of, I don't know, like 3 nanoseconds and said, "Yeeessss!!" while trying to maintain my cool, Editor-in-Chief demeanor.

I got all the details (where to meet, parking) and was ready to rock.  Monday morning, I received a change in parking details.  Apparently, I was to enter parking through "P1"; more on that later.  I jumped in my car around 3:00pm for the 4:30 connection with Verizon - what a mistake.  I incorrectly estimated 1.5 hours was enough for the drive from Lowell, MA to Foxborough, MA - on a Saturday at 6am, but not on a game day.  At any rate, I was only about 15 mins late for the demo.  As it turns out, "P1" is VIP parking right in front of the main stadium entrance, next to the Pro Shop and the Hall at Patriot Place.

Some nice Verizon folks walked us through all the technical details and features of Verizon FiOS - a cool product, if I might add.  FiOS is upgrading constantly and including widgets for Facebook, Twitter, and anything else you can think of.  I wouldn't be surprised if Youtube is next.  All in all, a very good product with tons of features and plenty of new ones to come.

Next, we walked over to the Dan Farber Field House, the Patriots' indoor practice facility.  During game days, the field house is setup up for the "Tailgate Party", a catered event with plenty of "free" food and beverages.  There's some giant screens at one end of the field house playing highlights and pregame interviews.  I chatted with a number of Patriots bloggers, but the most interesting blogger was a woman who ran a "Mommy Blog".  It's not just photos of her kids, mind you.  She attends events, writes product reviews, and is really into documenting her experiences for other moms and families to learn from.

We hopped on over to our seats which were pretty high up, but roughly on the 45 yard line of the visitor's side (check out this seating chart for Section 332, above the suites).  This provided a great bird's eye view of all the action and turned out to be a fantastic location.

Other than an incredibly exciting game and a great VIP experience provided by Verizon, one of the highlights was an F15 fly over with one plane missing.  Now, if you're not familiar with fly overs, they typically are made up of five planes.  When one is purposely left out, it represents the death of someone important.  Such was the case and I can only assume it was for Senator Ted Kennedy.  Back to the fly over.  Here's how it went:

"...and the home of the brave."

Red, white, and blue fireworks.

wwwwwhhhhhhoooooOOOOOOSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

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via cache.daylife.com

HOLY CRAP!!  That was incredible!!  I was sitting up and to the left of this picture and actually felt the heat from the jet wash.  Loud?  I play in a rock band and this was INSANE!!  The first thought that popped into my head was that I feel...safe.  Like I'm walking down a dark street, three school bullies jump out of an alley and my 6-7 275lb outside linebacker brother shows up and says, "Is there a problem?"  The bullies stain themselves and run away.  Yup, safe.  Oddly enough, I consider those few seconds one of the highlights of my life.  Gillette Stadium full of Patriots fans, National Anthem, fireworks, and a thunderous fly over.  Just awesome.

I was able to get out of the parking lot fairly quickly, thanks to VIP parking.  The drive up Route 1, however, was anything but quick.  That's ok, it gave me time to tune into 98.5 and absorb all that just happened.

What a night.

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