At Gillette Stadium, Park At Your Own Risk

Heading to the Patriots-Texans game this Sunday? Be prepared to shell out big bucks for parking.

gillette stadiumGillette parking photo via Shutterstock

If you’ve ever driven to Foxborough for a Patriots game, you know what a schlep it is. First, there’s usually traffic on 95, then there’s traffic on Route 1which is typically bumper to bumper—then you have to find parking. And my God, what a racket that is. The Globe’s Callum Borchers has a story this morning about the people who own the private lots near Gillette Stadium. It’s quite a lucrative enterprise:

Those not normally bustling on weekends enjoy one more opportunity to pad their accounts with parking revenue from fans. Many owners of the 38 private lots near the stadium will raise their rates to $60 per car for the postseason. All the private lots combined will collect as much as $400,000 in parking fees on Sunday alone.

I can’t blame the lot owners for charging as much as they do—hell, if people will pay ridiculously high prices, then prices will stay ridiculously high—but it’s just another reason to make watching the games from home more appealing. Attempting to find a good parking space in Foxborough on a Sunday isn’t easy. Throw in the weather (which is actually supposed to be pretty good this weekend) and the “lubed up” crowd, and it can add up to a miserable experience.

Private companies in Foxborough and Walpole are critical to the parking supply on game days, providing 6,654 spaces, according to town records—roughly a quarter of the total used by fans. Though some are more than a mile from the field, they routinely charge as much or more than the $40 fee at stadium lots, enticing fans with signs that claim an “easy out” after the game.

A few takeaways here. One, paying $40 for a spot in an official stadium lot doesn’t seem like that great a deal. After games, the lines of cars heading out of Gillette stretch for miles. (In fairness, though, $40 isn’t all that ridiculous compared to what you’ll pay at some other NFL stadiums. In September, I went to the Patriots-Ravens game in Baltimore. Parking passes were going for between $80 and $100 on Craigslist.) Also, the “easy out” claim is often a false promise. After games, getting out of any parking lot within five miles of Gillette is rarely easy.

So on Sunday, I’ll be perfectly content watching the Pats from the comfort of a warm, less-booze soaked place—even if that means having to listen to Phil Simms for three hours.