The New England Patriots’ first big upgrade of the offseason does not involve a player or position group, but rather the very foundation of not just the team but the game itself. According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the team is planning to install a new field at Gillette Stadium for the first time since 2017.
The stadium’s two occupants — the Patriots and Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution — have been using FieldTurf for the last four seasons, but plans are currently in the works to upgrade the playing surface in the coming weeks. The old field has already been removed, with the new one being added before the Revolution’s season opener in mid-April.
The Patriots went a combined 28-8 on the old field, including 3-1 in the playoffs. They will obviously hope that the new turf will see similar success — and that this latest offseason upgrade will work better than the last.
Back in 2017, the Patriots opted to replace their synthetic turf playing surface just four months after first installing it. While it did pass all NFL and MLS safety standards at the time, New England players complained that the new field had been too soft. Just three games in — two in the preseason as well as the 2017 regular season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs — the organization therefore decided to make a change.
The in-season switch four years ago was not the first of its kind. In 2006, the Patriots moved from natural grass to FieldTurf after a November loss to the New York Jets that saw players fail to gain their footing.
This year, the Revolution will be the first to try out the new surface. The Patriots, meanwhile, are likely to set foot on it for the first time in August: the team traditionally holds an in-stadium training camp practice, and it will also host one or two preseason games — depending on whether or not the NFL moves to a 17-game regular season schedule — before the 2021 campaign gets kicked off in September.
The Patriots are hopeful that they will be able to welcome fans back at Gillette Stadium after having played the entire 2020 season in front of empty seats due to the Coronavirus pandemic.