Robert Kraft grew up in a world of sports. As a child, he loved going to games and watching his favorite players tackle some of the toughest plays on the field. However, while his first love was American football, it wouldn’t take him long before he wanted to support a much older game with the same international name.
In addition to being the CEO of the New England Patriots, Kraft is the investor/operator of the New England Revolution. See how he wound up with two high-profile positions in sports and how he’s managed to single-handedly change the culture of New England.
Wins All Around
Between the two teams, Kraft has managed to bring in 13 conference titles and 5 league championships. The two teams play at Gillette Stadium, located on a patch of land that Kraft purchased in 1985. Throughout the years, Kraft has helped change the culture of New England into a haven for champions to come and play.
He might have been years away from professional soccer matches on the grounds, but it wasn’t long before he advocated for New England to take part in major soccer games. Long before Gillette became the premier place to catch a game or see a concert, he wanted Foxboro Stadium to be one of several venues used during the 1994 FIFA World Cup. In 1995, he became the investor/operator of the New England Revolution.
Hosting the Games
From the beginning, Kraft has made big promises to the people who believed in him and, maybe even more importantly, to the skeptics who didn’t. From year to year, he’s delivered truly phenomenal returns, and the atmosphere has only grown in support of his endeavors. The New England Revolution has been to the MLS Cup five times and the team holds titles in both the SuperLiga and the US Open Cup.
Three of the MLS Cups took place in Foxborough, with its most famous being the match between the New England Revolution and LA Galaxy in 2002. That game was host to more than 60,000 people, and it was the largest postseason turnout for the title.
Gillette and Foxboro have also played a major role in hosting international teams and matches. In 1999 and 2003, Foxboro was a key venue for the Women’s World Cup. In 2003, 50,000 showed their support for the US National Team against North Korea. In 2011, Kraft would watch the Men’s National Team when they took down Spain. In that game, a crowd of more than 60,000 people came out. All in all, the two stadiums saw more than 30 international matches over the years.
Kraft may not have been the only person driving the interest in soccer, but his influence is undeniable. Over the past decades, America has grown to embrace soccer in ways that not everyone could have predicted. Part of the fascination has stemmed from big names getting involved in some of the most exciting games in history.
The Tale of Robert Kraft
Kraft is used to finding the opportunity in any given situation, even when it’s far from obvious. When he was in public school, he got a scholarship to Columbia University. From there, he went to Harvard for his master’s in business. At the beginning of his career, he went to work for Rand-Whitney Group, Inc., a paper and packaging company. Later, he bought the company and then established International Forest Products. When combined, the two companies are the largest privately held operations of their kind in the US.
This early-career story is one that would set Kraft up for success when he bought the Patriots. When Kraft put in his winning bid, the team was in danger of being shipped off to another city. With a slew of losses behind them, many believed that there was nothing to fight for. However, Kraft saw that there was plenty of hope and promise in the team, and the right kind of support could turn it into a multi-billion dollar franchise.
Today, Kraft is also well known for his philanthropic work, in addition to his efforts in sports. While his charitable giving is diverse, he’s concentrated much of his wealth on promoting better healthcare for all. The Kraft family has donated $25 million to establish the Kraft Center for Community Health through Partners Healthcare and an additional $20 million to advance the cause of precision medicine at Harvard. Kraft is known as a strong supporter of inclusion, ensuring that people from all backgrounds have access to superior medical care. Part of the donations are going toward educational programs that help healthcare professionals ensure consistent care from one patient to the next, regardless of socioeconomic background.